LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas will host a screening of a documentary and panel discussion with Darryl Hunt, a man who spent 20 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. “The Trials of Darryl Hunt” screening and discussion with Hunt and seminal players in his exoneration will be held from Tuesday, Sept. 13 at the Ecumenical Campus Ministries from 4 to 7 p.m.
In 1984, a young white woman was murdered in Winston-Salem, N.C. With no physical evidence, Darryl Hunt, a 19-year-old African-American man, was convicted by an all-white jury and sentenced to life in prison, based on erroneous identification from a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. In 1994, DNA tests proved Hunt’s innocence, but he would spend another decade behind bars before being exonerated and released. The man whose DNA was found at the crime scene has since pleaded guilty to the murder.
The event is organized by Simran Sethi, associate professor of journalism, as part of the university’s journalism course on diversity in media.
“Mr. Hunt’s case revealed racial tensions that many assumed had abated,” Sethi said. “The ongoing efforts of Hunt’s legal team, support of the African-American faith community, including the work of Imam Khalid Griggs, one of the founding members of the Darryl Hunt Defense Fund, and meticulous investigative reporting by Phoebe Zerwick helped exonerate a man who should never have been imprisoned.”
On Sept. 13, Hunt will be joined by Griggs and Zerwick as part of an in-depth discussion on race, justice and the forces that helped support Hunt’s release. The documentary screening will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will open the panel discussion, which will run from 6 to 7 p.m. The film screening and presentation are both free and open to the public.
The event is being co-sponsored by the Department of African and African-American Studies, the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty, and Ecumencial Campus Ministries at KU.
The Ecumenical Campus Ministries building is located at 1204 Oread Avenue in Lawrence. The discussion will be archived on the School of Journalism website at www.journalism.ku.edu.
For more information on Hunt’s trial, visit www.theinnocenceproject.org/Content/Darryl_Hunt.php.