A Milwaukee man who spent 24 years in prison for crimes he did not commit should be awarded $1 million for his wrongful conviction, a state board has decided.
Daryl Holloway was freed from prison in 2016 after DNA testing exonerated him in a rape case. He is the longest wrongfully convicted person released in Wisconsin to date, according to the Wisconsin Claims Board.
"It's an apology," said Nathaniel Cade, one of Holloway's attorneys. "It's an acknowledgment that a lot of things went wrong."
Wisconsin law provides exonerated inmates no more than $5,000 for each lost year of their life, up to a total of $25,000 — among the lowest amounts in the country.
In a unanimous decision, the claims board said the amount was "not adequate" in this case.
"His imprisonment during the most productive earning years of his life has
caused him significant and measurable economic damages," the board wrote. "He suffered the loss of multiple relationships and has ongoing psychological and emotional trauma."
The amount still has to be approved by the Legislature, which will not begin its new session until January. The five-member claims board includes Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) and Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg), who are members of the Joint Finance Committee.
In recent years, several bills have been proposed to boost the compensation amounts, with one measure providing $50,000 per year, up to a total of $1 million, but none have been approved.
Appeal pending in federal civil rights case
Holloway was convicted in 1993 of two home invasion sexual assaults despite no physical evidence connecting him to the crimes and phone records showing he was across town when one of the rapes occurred.
At the time, there had been a string of stranger rapes on the city's East Side.
Holloways was freed in 2016 with help from lawyer Ray Dall'Osto, the Wisconsin Innocence Project, and the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office, which reviewed the case and found conflicting DNA reports from separate labs.
A new DNA report conclusively excluded Holloway as the perpetrator of the crime and identified the presence of male DNA from an unknown third party.
"Make better choices before convicting people, make sure you've got the right evidence, because when you do this, people lose," Holloway told reporters in 2016. He declined a recent interview request.
"Everybody loses — victims, me — I've been victimized," he said, before adding: "I'm trying to rebuild my life now."
Cade, who is representing Holloway in a federal civil rights lawsuit, said Milwaukee detectives zeroed in on Holloway after he was arrested in Shorewood on suspicion of burglary.
"The police department was very short-sighted," Cade said. "...Once they determined he fit the general parameters, they looked at no one else."
The federal lawsuit, filed in 2019, says Milwaukee police conducted an improper physical lineup and never tried to track down another potential suspect. Neither of the victims in the charged sexual assault cases saw their attacker's face, but both eventually picked Holloway out of the lineup.
The victims described the suspect as a Black man about 5-feet and 7 to 8 inches tall. At the time, Holloway was 5-foot, 10-inches tall, and was the shortest man in the lineup, Cade said.
U.S. Judge Lynn Adelman dismissed the federal lawsuit last year on summary judgement, but Holloway's legal team has appealed that decision to U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals where the case is pending.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wrongfully convicted Milwaukee man should get $1 million, state says