DURHAM, N.C. — A 21-year-old man who has spent nearly a third of his life behind bars for an armed robbery he insists he had nothing to do with is looking toward a South Carolina inmate to help free him.
Judge Orlando Hudson issued an order this month that gives Erick Daniels and his lawyers permission to interview Samuel Allen Strong at the federal prison in Salters, S.C.
Daniels was 15 in December 2001 when he was convicted of burglary and using a dangerous weapon to rob a Durham Police Department employee.
Carlos Mahoney, a Durham civil rights lawyer now championing his case, says Daniels had ineffective counsel in a case that hinged on identification of Daniels by a key witness who identified Daniels from a middle school yearbook photo after 30 minutes of study. The state, according to court documents, offered no physical evidence or corroborating testimony linking Daniels to the robbery.
Mahoney contends that Daniels' trial lawyer should have challenged the identification procedure. He also contends that Daniels' trial attorneys should have investigated Strong who, according to court documents, matched the description of one suspect and was in photos with the second suspect.
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