Murder Charges Finally Dropped For Man Who Served 17 Years

5:38 PM, Mar 19, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC - After 9-months of waiting, a prosecutor has dismissed a murder charge against LaMonte Armstrong. He served 17 years of a life sentence after being convicted of the 1988 murder of Ernestine Compton in Greensboro. But no physical evidence ever linked him to the crime.

According to a news release from Duke University, Armstrong was released from prison last June. That's after the help of a team of Duke Law students and alumni who worked with both prosecutors and police to reexamine his case.

On Monday, Guilford County Assistant District Attorney Howard Neumann dismissed the murder charge after DNA testing of crime scene evidence was concluded.

The case was re-opened after, the Duke Law Clinic team worked with the Greensboro Police Department and Theresa Newman to initiate the DNA testing.

"The DNA tests excluded LaMonte and confirmed the state's decision to vacate the conviction in June," Theresa Newman said following the outcome of the decision. 

Neumann, the assistant district attorney, along with Armstrong's lawyers wanted his release pending a new trial.

No physical evidence ever linked Armstrong to the crime, according to news released from Duke.

Guilford Co. Judge Joseph Turner approved Armstrong's release in June but only after defense attorneys David Pishko and Newman presented evidence of his wrongful conviction.

Armstrong's hearing was moved up after police discovered new evidence during a retest of physical evidence removed from the crime scene.

"Dismissal of the charge against Armstrong is more than a formality," said Natasha Alladina, an associate at Alston & Bird in Atlanta who has worked on Armstrong's case as a student at Duke University.

"He felt like he would never have peace of mind knowing that he was innocent yet having the murder charge hanging over his head," Alladina said after its dismissal. "I'm sure this will give him the relief he has wanted for so long and deserves so much."

Armstrong said, "he felt equal parts relief and elation," after finding out the murder charges against him were dropped.

"It's been real up and down, and I am a little bit overwhelmed," he said. "They gave me life, then they let me go. And as happy as I am to be free, I've been walking around for nine months with that charge hanging over my head, and I was starting to wonder if it would always be hanging over me," Armstrong said. 

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