North Carolina Man Pardoned After Spending 24 Years in Prison for Murder He Didn’t Commit

Dontae Sharpe breathes the air outside the Pitt County Courthouse after a judge determined he could be set free on Aug. 22, 2019, in Greenville, N.C. (Deborah Griffin/The Daily Reflector/AP)

Dontae Sharpe had just finished discussing potential avenues with his legal team for getting pardoned for a murder he did not commit when he received a call from one of his attorneys.

Sharpe, who is Black, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a White man in Greenville, N.C., in 1994. Sharpe, who maintained his innocence, was wrongfully imprisoned for 24 years until he was exonerated in 2019 when a judge found that a key witness in the case had “entirely made up” her testimony.

Then, on Friday, Theresa A. Newman, one of Sharpe’s attorneys, greeted her client with the news he’d been waiting to hear since his exoneration.

“Theresa called me and said, ‘Hey, Mr. Pardon Man.’ I was like, ‘What do you mean, “Mr. Pardon Man?”’” Sharpe told The Washington Post. “She said, ‘The governor just pardoned you.’ That just left me smiling on my couch and kind of awestruck.”

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced Sharpe’s pardon after he “carefully reviewed” a case that’s been championed by criminal justice advocates for years.

“Mr. Sharpe and others who have been wrongly convicted deserve to have that injustice fully and publicly acknowledged,” Cooper said in a news release.

The governor’s pardon allows Sharpe, 46, of Charlotte to seek as much as $750,000 in compensation from the state for his wrongful conviction, Newman said.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Timothy Bella