Fmr. death row inmate settles lawsuit

January 9, 2008 2:54:07 PM PST
A former death-row inmate exonerated by DNA after 23 years in prison has settled a multimillion-dollar lawsuit with Delaware County, his attorney said Wednesday.

Nicholas Yarris, 46, became the first person freed from Pennsylvania's death row by DNA testing when he was released in January 2004. Yarris had first asked for the tests 16 years earlier.

"My case and other cases like it should be used to show that there are innocent men on death row and the death penalty should be abolished," Yarris said in a statement released by his attorney.

The federal civil rights suit alleged that authorities in Delaware County destroyed or withheld crucial DNA evidence, leading to his long imprisonment in the 1981 murder of Linda Mae Craig.

According to Yarris's suit, some DNA samples were allowed to rot after his trial in a paper bag under a detective's desk while other samples turned up after he had been told there were none.

Craig, 32, was found stabbed to death in a car near her suburban Philadelphia home.