A Maryland board has given its approval on Wednesday for a compensation package worth $2.9 million to be awarded to a man who was unjustly incarcerated for 32 years, including a decade on death row, for two murders he did not commit, Your Content has learned.
John Huffington, who was exonerated in January by former Governor Larry Hogan, received a full innocence pardon due to prosecutorial misconduct in relation to a 1981 double slaying in Harford County.
The Board of Public Works, comprising Governor Wes Moore, Comptroller Brooke Lierman, and Treasurer Dereck Davis, has officially endorsed the compensation package during a meeting.
Governor Moore took the opportunity to apologize to Huffington, who was present at the board meeting, acknowledging the countless moments and opportunities that were stolen from him as a result of the injustice he endured.
Moore also commended Huffington for his efforts in raising awareness about flaws in the criminal justice system through public speeches and his book recounting his experiences.
Their relationship has grown into a friendship, with Moore expressing gratitude for Huffington’s willingness to transform his pain into service.
Highlighting Huffington’s achievements since his release, the governor noted his work as a manager at Second Chance, a nonprofit organization aiding individuals with employment barriers.
Additionally, Huffington has been involved in job training and reentry programs at the Living Classrooms Foundation.
Presently, he serves as the chief operating officer at the Kinetic Capital Community Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting income equality in Baltimore.
Throughout his ordeal, Huffington steadfastly maintained his innocence. In 2013, he was finally freed from Patuxent Institution after serving 32 years of two life sentences.
The “Memorial Day Murders” case, for which Huffington was twice convicted, involved the stabbing death of Diane Becker in her recreational vehicle, while her 4-year-old son, who was present at the time, remained unharmed. Joseph Hudson, Becker’s boyfriend, was later found fatally shot a few miles away.
Another individual implicated in the slayings testified against Huffington, was convicted of first-degree murder, and served a 27-year sentence.
Prosecutors had relied on testimony that was later discredited, specifically regarding hair evidence found at the crime scene, which was claimed to match Huffington’s.
In 1981, Huffington appealed his first conviction, but in 1983, a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, resulting in a death sentence.
The sentence was later commuted to two life terms.
In 2011, doubts regarding the case emerged when FBI report indicating that the agent responsible for analyzing the hair evidence in Huffington’s case may not have employed reliable scientific methods or even tested the hair at all.
Subsequently, in 2013, a judge in Frederick County vacated Huffington’s convictions and ordered a new trial after new evidence surfaced, including DNA testing that had not been available during his earlier trials.
When the hair evidence was finally subjected to DNA testing over 30 years later, the results conclusively showed that it did not belong to Huffington, according to ABC15.