HOUSTON – A district judge granted $100,000 bond for Lydell Grant Tuesday morning a day after the Harris County District Attorney said she would support the measure for Grant, the man convicted in the stabbing death of a 28-year-old man outside a Montrose bar in 2010, after new DNA evidence came to light.
A condition of his release is that he submits to ankle monitoring.
Aaron Scheerhoorn was stabbed multiple times at about 11:45 p.m. on Dec. 10, 2010 outside Blur Bar at 710 Pacific Street. Seven witnesses including four bouncers at the bar, two patrons and one other witness saw a Scheerhoorn run up to the bar screaming, according to documents filed in court. As Scheerhoorn opened his shirt to show them a stab wound and try to enter the bar, the man ran up behind him and continued to stab him, officials wrote. The man then looked a witness in the eye and left the scene, court documents read.
Scheerhoorn was taken to a Ben Taub hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
A Crime Stoppers tipster gave police a description of a car and suggested that the unknown driver of that car, “may possibly be the suspect in this case," officials wrote in a court document. Five days later, an HPD officer pulled over a car matching that description for a traffic violation. It was being driven by 33-year-old Grant, who had a suspended license, officials wrote. The officer realized Grant had been marked as wanted for questioning in the Scheerhoorn stabbing case and he was taken in for questioning, officials wrote. While searching for evidence in Grant’s car, officers found a wig and two masks — a ski mask and a Halloween mask — in the trunk of his car, that were listed as evidence.
Officials wrote in court documents that six out of seven witnesses picked Grant out of a photo array and identified him in court as the suspect they saw stabbing Scheerhoorn.
In 2012, Grant was sentenced to a first-degree felony murder charge and was sentenced to life in prison and an $8,000 fine.
Grant maintained his innocence in the case and in 2014 attempted to appeal the conviction in the Court of Appeals for the 1st District of Texas. His lawyers tried to get the conviction overturned on the basis that the masks and wig were shown as evidence in trial though they were not connected with the crime as the suspect was not wearing a mask or wig.
The Court of Appeals did not reverse the conviction saying they believed Grant would have been convicted of the crime whether the masks and wig were used as evidence or not.
They cited Grant’s past criminal record — aggravated robbery, marijuana and credit card fraud convictions —and his connection with a Houston gang as sufficient to sway a jury to convict Grant in the murder trial and sentence him to the maximum penalty.
The court wrote in an opinion that they “conclude that if the three photographs depicting the wig and two masks found in the appellant’s trunk had any effect on the jury’s punishment decision, it was only a slight influence."
In Jan. 2011, HPD collected “a portion of a swab from fingernail scrapings/clippings” from the right hand of Scheerhoorn, according to a document filed in court. A mixture of two people’s DNA was found in the sample, one being Scheerhoorn. The HPD Crime Lab report stated that “no conclusions will be made regarding Lydell Grant as a possible contributor to this DNA mix.”
In June 2019, Grant’s attorneys filed to have the DNA evidence tested again, according to documents filed in court.
“Based on the likelihood ratio result, [defendant] Lydell Grant is excluded as a contributor to this profile,” officials wrote of the findings of the new DNA test.
The Innocence Project of Texas, an organization that aims to help exonerate the wrongfully convicted through DNA testing, took up Grant’s cause.
On Oct. 31, the group wrote on Facebook, “The Innocence Project of Texas and the Texas DPS crime lab retested the evidence that convicted IPTX client Lydell Grant. The DNA test was not a match and cleared Lydell.”
Grant appeared in court for a hearing to allow him to be released on bond, the group wrote. The hearing ended with Grant remaining in custody.
Monday evening, the Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced she supported Grant being released on bail after the new evidence came to light.
“Based on the new DNA evidence, the District Attorney’s Office believes a bond with reasonable conditions is appropriate in this specific case while the office continues its actual innocence investigation,” officials from Ogg’s office wrote in a press release.
“The District Attorney’s Office’s Conviction Integrity Division is conducting a comprehensive review of all evidence in the case to assess Grant’s claim of actual innocence,” the DA’s office wrote. “The reinvestigation by prosecutors and Houston Police has already taken hundreds of hours.”
Ogg also said once the reinvestigation of the case is complete, her office “will act quickly and decisively to bring this matter to a just result.”
Grant family reaction
Grant’s aunt, Kitsye Grant said the family is waiting for exoneration.
“We are trying to figure out why he’s not exonerated and free without a bond,” Kitsye said. "Don’t get me wrong, we are grateful that there is a bond in place but he should have just been freed.”
Of Scheerhoorn’s family, Kitsye said, “I want to give my sympathies for Aaron Scheerhoorn’s family. I don’t understand how they can continue to do this to this mother of this child that has been murdered."
“We ready for him to be free, free Lydell,” she said.
KPRC 2 Reporter Bill Bajaras contributed to this report.