A television documentary that in part focuses on the 1981 John Huffington double murder case in Harford County will air this Sunday and Wednesday on Al Jazeera America.
The episode, "Flawed Forensics," is the third of an eight-part series in "The System with Joe Berlinger," which explores controversial cases in the American judicial system. It can be viewed locally at 9 p.m. Sunday and Wednesday on Comcast 107, DirecTV 215, Dish 215 and Verizon Fios 114, 1750. (Al Jazeera American isn't available on Armstrong Cable.)
Huffington, a Bel Air resident, was twice convicted of killing an Abingdon man and a woman in what police investigators said was a drug deal gone bad. He was 18 at the time of the murders, which occurred on Memorial Day 1981.
Huffington was convicted of the murders by juries in Caroline County in 1981 and in Frederick County in 1983, after he appealed and was granted a new trial of the first conviction. He was sentenced to death following the second convictions, but the sentence was later overturned on appeal, after Huffington contended his trial counsel was defective. He was resentenced to two life terms after prosecutors declined to pursue the death penalty any further.
His convictions were overturned last year, however, when his lawyers successfully argued that hair evidence presented in the trial by the prosecution that had been analyzed by the FBI's lab was not Huffington's as claimed. The tainted evidence was used to place Huffington at the scene of one of the murders.
Huffington, 51, was released from prison last summer and is living in a Baltimore City halfway house. Harford County State's Attorney Joseph Cassilly, who is appealing the overturning of the convictions, says he will retry Huffington if they remain vacated. The state's attorney says he believes there is enough other evidence to convict Huffington.
The Al Jazeera America episode looks at the Huffington case and one in Mississippi that both involved flawed evidence analyzed by the FBI lab.
Huffington was interviewed for the episode, as was Bill Watson, a Havre de Grace resident, whose sister, Diane Becker, and her boyfriend, Joseph Hudson, were Huffington's alleged victims.
Watson said last summer he continues to believe Huffington is guilty.