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No retrial in double-murder case "riddled" with problems

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans district attorney’s office says a man whose conviction in a 2004 double murder was thrown out won't be retried because modern DNA evidence and potential witness credibility issues mean the case is “riddled with unsolvable legal problems."

District Attorney Jason Williams’ office made the decision in the case of Darrill Henry, now 47, in the deaths of 89-year-old Durelli Watts and her 67-year-old daughter, Claire Gex, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.

Henry’s 2011 conviction was thrown out in 2020 after DNA technology showed biological material found under Watts’ fingernails belonged to someone other than Henry.

Prosecutors under former District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said the DNA did not rule out Henry as a suspect. But a judge threw out the conviction in 2020.

Williams' office said the DNA was among “abundant issues” posing problems for the prosecution. Defense attorneys also planned to attack the credibility of key witnesses.

“If Mr. Henry is innocent, we hope today is a relief," said a statement from Williams' office. "If he is not, we know his actions were not without consequence as he has been investigated and prosecuted and gone through the legal system for years,”

Watts was stabbed more than a dozen times and set on fire in a presumed robbery on June 15, 2004. Gex was shot to death on the front porch.

Gex’s son, Gregory Gex, said he and his brothers had never wavered from their desire to see Henry tried again.

Henry’s lead defense attorney, Vanessa Potkin, said the case demonstrated the devastating consequences of wrongful convictions.