Judge Frees Lamonte Armstrong After New Evidence In His 1995 Conviction

11:41 AM, Jun 30, 2012   |    comments
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  • Lamonte Armstrong
  • Lamonte Armstrong hearing.
  • Armstrong's younger brother and son wait for him to leave the Guilford County Detention Center.

Greensboro, N.C. -- LaMonte Armstrong was convicted of first-degree murder for the 1988 stabbing and strangulation of Ernestine Compton and was sentenced to life in prison in 1995. He has always said he was innocent.

During a hearing that started at 2:00 p.m. Friday, inside the Guilford County Courthouse a judge granted him his freedom.

However, he could be re-tried in the case, but the District Attorney said that is not likely.

Duke University's Wrongful Convictions Clinic and Innocence Project has worked with Armstrong to get his case heard in court. Duke Law professor Theresa Newman and professor James Coleman have worked on the case along with students and alumni from the Duke Law School. Five of the students continued to work on the case, pro bono, after they graduated.

According to Greensboro Police, "a partial palm print, along with other latent prints collected at the scene, was sent to the State Crime Laboratory for identification in the early 1990's; no match was made. Advances in technology since Armstrong's trial have now helped us identify the palm print as belonging to Christopher Bernard Caviness, a person of interest in this crime. As part of re-opening this case, Greensboro Police ran the original partial palm print through its SPEX fingerprint database, which produced a hit. A latent print examiner with the Greensboro Police Department was able to make the match on the hit, which was then independently confirmed by a second print examiner and also by the State Crime Laboratory.

Caviness was convicted of the murder of his father in 1989. After his release from prison, Caviness was killed in a traffic accident in Winston-Salem in 2010."

Greensboro Police Chief Ken Miller said, "We will continue to work with the Wrongful Convictions Clinic and the District Attorney's Office as this case is re-opened as an active investigation....While these types of cases are very rare, we will always strive to conduct our investigations with integrity to ensure justice is done. We owe that to Mr. Armstrong and to the family of Professor Compton, and it is the right thing to do."


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