The Trials of Darryl Hunt (2006)

The Trials of Darryl Hunt (2006)
  • Time: 118 min
  • Genre: Documentary | Crime
  • Directors: Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg
  • Cast: Evelyn Jefferson, Fred Flagler, John Reeves


“The Trials of Darryl Hunt” is a feature documentary about a brutal rape/murder case and a wrongly convicted man, Darryl Hunt, who spent nearly twenty years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

One comment

  • In 1984, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, young white newspaper editor Deborah Sykes is brutally raped and murdered. A man with a history of violence and crime, claiming to be somebody else, phones the police to report that he has seen a young woman killed. A name given during the phone call leads the police to question young black male Darryl Hunt and his friend, and later take them in for further questioning. With a media shit-storm generated by the slaying of a white woman in a black neighbourhood in a Southern state, what transpired next was one of the most shockingly vindictive miscarriages of justice in recent American history.

    Documentaries surrounding wrongful imprisonments and the many failings of the American judicial system are extremely common, but The Trials of Darryl Hunt is particularly infuriating due to the involvement of Hunt himself; a humble, intelligent man who maintains his innocence and dignity throughout his many trials without a hint of hatefulness towards his accusers. He spent 19 years in prison for his imagined crime, his release only being granted after the exhaustive efforts of his legal team and dedicated community following. Ten years into his term, DNA evidence is presented that clears Hunt, but the judge rules that this only proves he didn’t do the deed, not that he wasn’t present.

    The film never tries to be anything other than informative, and directors Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg detail every movement in the case rather than getting over-stuffed with style. It’s often an incredibly frustrating watch, made slightly more bearable by the sight of Hunt,older and heavier, being granted his freedom in the opening moments. It shows us a city divided by skin colour, where tension is still high in a country that believes it has moved on from its dark history, and where a black man can be proven guilty by an all-white jury for a crime he didn’t do, the only evidence being broken testimony from a known liar, an ex-convict and a man who looks like he’s stepped out of the Jim Crow South.

    Rating: 4/5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *