HOUSTON - A Houston man who was convicted of murder in 2012 and sentenced to life in prison has been declared actually innocent by the state’s highest criminal court.
According to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, the decision by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals means Lydell Grant, 44, can apply for $80,000 in state compensation for each year of his wrongful imprisonment.
"The exoneration of innocent individuals is as important as the conviction of guilty ones," said DA Ogg. "The highest responsibility of a prosecutor is to see that justice is done."
Grant and his attorneys with The Innocence Project spoke at his mother’s house in northwest Houston Wednesday about this life-changing decision.
"It was like finally. I wasn’t like should I say, excited or I wasn’t surprised. I knew it was going to come but I didn’t know when. And I thank God that it came sooner rather than later," Grant said.
Grant was convicted of murder under a prior district attorney in the 2010 stabbing death of Aaron Scheerhoorn outside of a Montrose bar. Six eyewitnesses to the stabbing testified against Grant at trial.
In November 2019, Grant was granted bond thanks to new DNA evidence in the case. The Innocence Project of Texas took on Grant's case and found that at his original trial, the prosecutor’s DNA expert mistakenly and inaccurately testified that Grant could not be excluded as the contributor of the DNA found under the stabbing victim’s fingernails. The project said new DNA testing, which included recent testing done by the Texas Department of Public Safety's lab in Houston, confirmed that the trial testimony in 2012 presented by the prosecutors was inaccurate and false and that Grant is completely excluded as the contributor.
"My life was handed over. My life was handed over for me to go to prison for the rest of my life and die. So now, my time is like every move I make is calculated You know when I go to the store, I get a receipt to show that hey I was at this place at this time and it’s crazy because now I gotta live like that because of what I had been through," Grant said.
According to the district attorney’s office, through the joint efforts of the Houston Police Department, the Innocence Project of Texas, and the Harris County District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit, newly discovered evidence led to the apprehension and charging of a new suspect in the murder.
The district attorney's office says Grant is the third person from Harris County during the Ogg administration that the Court of Criminal Appeals has found to be actually innocent based in part on the district attorney’s recommendations. The other two are brothers Otis Mallet and Steven Mallet. The case of a fourth man, James Harris, is pending before the Court of Criminal Appeals for final determination.
Grant says he plans on going back to school and making up for lost time, living a normal life, as best as he can moving forward.
"I'm going to pursue my music career that I once had, that I lost. Now I've obtained that back. I have a book that I'm writing on this situation called ‘where did I go wrong?’ Don’t ever give up. You can't give up because an innocent man isn’t going to give up," Grant said.
The new DNA evidence pointed investigators to another man. He’s now been arrested and charged with the 2010 murder in Montrose.