Lydell Grant was supposed to be in prison for murder. But an emerging form of DNA technology, which has also come under scrutiny, is helping to free him in an unprecedented case.
Lydell Grant was supposed to be in prison for murder. But an emerging form of DNA technology, which has also come under scrutiny, is helping to free him in an unprecedented case.Nov. 26, 2019 01:09 The search process used in Grant's case has enormous potential to solve cold cases or re-evaluate other convictions that could pave the way for more exonerations nationwide, forensic scientists say. "There's probably 5,000 or 6,000 innocent people in Texas prisons alone," said attorney Mike Ware, executive director of the Innocence Project of Texas , which is representing Grant."How many of them could benefit from such a reanalysis of DNA that was used to convict them? I don't really know, but this is a historic case that could open the door for those who thought it was shut forever." A match in the database Grant's ordeal began in December 2010, when Aaron Scheerhoorn was stabbed outside a Houston gay bar. Authorities said Scheerhoorn, who was bleeding from his abdomen, had run to the bar's entrance seeking help from horrified bar patrons and employees. The witnesses described the killer as a black man, about 25 to 30 years old, and around 6 feet tall. Police told local media it may have been a"crime of passion." A tip came in about a car that might belong to the suspect. Five days later, an officer pulled over a vehicle matching its description and Grant, who at the time was driving on a suspended license, was taken in for questioning. Investigators also interviewed seven witnesses, all but one of whom picked out Grant as the suspect from a photo lineup. Grant, then 33, had a criminal record going back several years, including for aggravated robbery, marijuana use and theft. But he maintained his innocence in the stabbing, said he never met Scheerhoorn and produced an alibi for his defense. At Grant's 2012 trial, prosecutors centered their case around the eyewitness testimony — a practice that the Innocence Project argues plays a major role in defendants being wrongfully accused. In addition, jurors heard about DNA collected from fingernail scrapings from Scheerhoorn's right hand. The DNA was actually a mixture of two people: the victim and a second male profile. Houston's police crime lab at the time was unable to conclude that the other genetic material was Grant's, and the state's expert's testimony suggested to the jury that it"could not be excluded." Jurors also heard from Grant's alibi, who said he was with him on the night Scheerhoorn was murdered, but his testimony failed to sway them, court documents show. Grant was found guilty of first-degree felony murder. From his jail cell in Harris County, he began writing to anyone he thought could help. A letter eventually landed on a pile at the Innocence Project of Texas, which receives hundreds of inmate mail each month. In 2018, it was referred to the Texas A&M School of Law, which partners with the Innocence Project of Texas. "We knew at the very least the prosecutor put on inaccurate testimony at trial," Ware said."We didn't know where the facts were going to lead to." The law students got to work, paying particular attention to the DNA report that described the mixture of genetic materials. In 2011, the Houston crime lab had analyzed it using a traditional method in which a forensic scientist studies the genetic makeup of the DNA sample, which is translated into a type of graph that can be reviewed manually, and determines the probability that a particular person's DNA matches the sample. But when a sample includes a mixture of DNA from more than one person, it is increasingly difficult to separate and interpret the data. Flawed DNA readings by analysts have been known to ensnare innocent people . After Ware and the students gave a fresh look at the original DNA report, they were convinced Grant's DNA could not have been a part of the mixture. In March 2019, Ware began working with Angie Ambers, a DNA expert and an associate professor of forensic science at the University of New Haven in Connecticut. The Morning Rundown Get a head start on the morning's top stories. Sign Up Read more: NBC News
Happy he has his freedom back! Sorry it was taken from him sue them, sue the police, sue the government.Demand billion dollars from each of the pigs involved.Sue each person as an individual. At the same time 1,100 ex-DoJ officials are telling America DoJ officials are perfect, shouldn't be reviewed, shouldn't be criticized. Many wrongly charged and/or incarcerated Americans would beg to differ.
This is exactly why the death penalty should not exist.... abolishdeathpenalty
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