WENTWORTH — An Eden man, who spent more than two years in prison for crimes that he says he is innocent of, is suing a former Rockingham County district attorney for allegedly withholding evidence.
Donnie Ray Carter, 59, was one of five people arrested after police investigated allegations that a mother had prostituted her two minor daughters to older men in the community.
The lawsuit was filed in Rockingham County and seeks monetary relief for Carter after Tom Keith, selected by Gov. Roy Cooper to serve as interim district attorney and clean up the scandal-rocked DA’s office, announced that evidence had been withheld in the case.
That evidence included witness statements that may have helped Carter at trial and evidence showing that at least one of the girls was not severely mentally handicapped as alleged by Blitzer in one of Carter’s convictions, according to the lawsuit.
Blitzer resigned in 2017 and, in an unrelated matter, was convicted of misdemeanor failure to discharge the duties of his office.
The lawsuit was filed in November, but Carter’s attorneys, John Vermitsky and John Taylor Jr. of Winston-Salem, have been unable to serve Blitzer. A legal ad is being published over the next three weeks giving Blitzer a deadline to respond.
In 2016, Carter took an Alford plea — meaning he didn’t admit guilt — to forcible sex offense, two counts of indecent liberties with a child and patronizing a prostitute with severe mental disabilities.
Keith’s discovery of the withheld evidence and a new Alford plea meant Carter’s immediate release from prison.
Keith is expected to testify that Carter was sentenced to more than double the amount of time he would have been had he been charged appropriately, according to the lawsuit.