Texas man convicted of 2010 murder released from prison while new DNA evidence is examined
A Texas inmate serving a life sentence for a fatal 2010 stabbing was released on bond Tuesday while authorities re-investigate his case. New DNA evidence that was presented several months ago could exonerate the man, who was convicted in 2012, CBS affiliate KHOU-TV reported.
Lydell Grant was released from prison Tuesday after posting $100,000 bond.
"I feel rejuvenated. I feel free now. It was a long time coming; I always claimed my innocence," Grant said after leaving the Harris County Jail. "I just thank God that I get to spend time with my family, I thank my attorneys, I thank God. I've got to keep saying that. I thank God. I thank God."
Grant was joined by his mother and brother, who also shouted words of encouragement during his court appearance earlier in the day.
Grant, now 42, was convicted of the 2010 murder of 28-year-old Aaron Scheerhoorn in the parking lot of a Houston night club. Police say Scheerhoorn ran to the club looking for help after being stabbed. He was turned away and stabbed several more times in front of dozens of witnesses.
Grant was arrested five days later during a traffic stop when police discovered he was driving with a suspended license. Thanks to a tip, police labeled him as a suspect in the stabbing, and six witnesses from outside the nightclub identified Grant's picture in a photo lineup.
Now, DNA evidence from the victim's fingernails appears to exonerate Grant and point to another suspect. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said there is "substantial new evidence that points toward a person of interest," but stressed authorities are "not there yet" in declaring the new suspect the definitive culprit.
After being found guilty, Grant immediately appealed the decision, but his request wasn't granted until 2018. A Texas state law allows those convicted of crimes to specifically request DNA testing, and thanks to technology that wasn't available in 2010, it was revealed that Grant's DNA was not found anywhere on Scheerhoorn, according to Grant's lawyers.
The retesting also resulted in a hit on the FBI's Combined DNA Index System — or CODIS database — that pointed to another individual as a person of interest, the DA said.
Ogg said the evidence pointing to this person of interest as the killer is "mounting," including evidence that shows he was in Houston around the time of the crime and that he left afterward.
"We're working together to try and get to the bottom of things," she said. "We have to be methodical and we have to be swift, but check out every detail because [Grant] was convicted by a jury and there were six eyewitnesses."
"It's a very positive step in the right direction but we do have a long way to go on this case and we don't want to lose track of that," Mike Ware, the executive director of the Innocence Project of Texas and one of Grant's attorneys, said. "We anticipate that the evidence is going to justify overwhelmingly that he should be exonerated of this crime that he was wrongfully convicted of."
"In this case, I think the biggest flaw was the erroneous eyewitness identification," Ware continued. "Mistaken eyewitnesses identification is very real. ... Whatever hundreds or thousands of DNA exonerations later, we know eyewitnesses identification, although appears to be persuasive, is highly, highly unreliable."
"It was a victory to get him out on bond, and we anticipate getting him exonerated, Grant's brother, Alonzoe Poe told reporters. "We want justice to be served. Not only for him to get out, but that family to find the killer because this is just not right."
Grant's mother, Donna Poe, echoed those sentiments.
"My heart goes out to the victim's family because the mother should know the real truth," she said.
The conditions of Grant's release stipulate that he must where an ankle bracelet with GPS tracking and he is not allowed to leave Harris County. Grant must also abstain from drugs and alcohol.
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