On October 21, the Greensboro City Council voted to approve a settlement of all claims in the matter of LaMonte Armstrong vs. J.F. Whitt and David Spagnola.
Armstrong was prosecuted by the state and convicted by a jury in August 1995 of the 1988 murder of Ernestine Compton. He was released from prison in 2012, when it was determined that he was innocent after a new investigation by the Greensboro Police Department (GPD) developed probable cause to charge Christopher Caviness, now deceased, with Compton’s murder.
As part of the new investigation, in 2012 a GPD latent print examiner matched a palm print found at the crime scene in 1988 to Caviness. GPD had sent the same latent print to the State Bureau of Investigation’s (SBI) Crime Lab in 1992 for comparison to Caviness’ prints. Unfortunately, the SBI reported incorrectly that the latent print found at the scene was not a match to Caviness.
Armstrong received a Pardon of Innocence from Governor Pat McCrory in December 2013. In 2014, Armstrong received a monetary award pursuant to a state statute in connection with his erroneous conviction and incarceration that released his claims against the state, including the SBI and the District Attorney’s Office that prosecuted the case. Armstrong filed the current lawsuit against the City of Greensboro and three retired employees in the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina in 2015.
The agreed-upon terms of the settlement include the payment to Armstrong of $6.42 million. Of this amount, $3,153,333.33 is to be paid by the City and $3,266,666.67 is to be paid by Genesis Insurance Company. This settlement is without any admission of wrongdoing or liability by the City, any of its retired employees, or Genesis Insurance Company.
Earlier this year, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims against the City and one of its retired employees. This settlement brings the litigation and related issues involving a series of insurance policies issued by Genesis to the City to a conclusion.