HOUSTON – A murder charge was filed against a new suspect in the 2010 stabbing death of Aaron Scheerhoorn.
Scheerhooorn was stabbed multiple times outside a Montrose bar, for which Lydell Grant was convicted of murder. Grant was released from prison last month after new DNA evidence came to light.
Jermarico Carter, 41, was taken into custody in Georgia after the Houston Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office began reinvestigating the case in light of the new DNA evidence.
“DA Kim Ogg says that Carter is now being charged with Scheerhoorn’s murder; he was stabbed to death outside a Montrose neighborhood bar in 2010 and Lydell Grant was convicted of his murder in 2012,” officials wrote in a press release Friday. “Ogg says the new charges against Carter will lead to (the) exoneration of Grant.”
Grant, who has fought the conviction for almost a decade, was released on a $100,000 bond in November when the Innocence Project of Texas re-tested a DNA sample found under Scheerhoorn’s fingernails.
The DA’s office said Friday that not only did the new DNA test “eliminate Lydell Grant as a donor,” it also provided officials with a match to a different suspect already in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System. That suspect was later identified as Carter.
Houston police Cheif Art Acevedo tweeted a statement Friday evening. In the statement, Acevedo said Carter, “recently confessed to his role in Mr. Scheerhoorn’s killing.”
“HPD detectives learned he was an individual who had been in Houston and in the vicinity of the murder when Scheerhoorn was stabbed to death in front of a Montrose neighborhood establishment,” officials wrote in the release. “With the help of law enforcement agencies in Georgia, HPD has been searching for the new suspect for months, ultimately locating him and taking him into custody yesterday.”
"We will begin the exoneration process for Lydell Grant immediately,” Ogg said in the press release.
Acevedo apologized to Grant in his statement.
“On behalf of the Houston Police Department, I want to extend an apology to Mr. Grant and his family as they have waited for justice all these years,” he said. “We firmly believe the charges being filed on this second suspect, now linked by DNA and additional testing, will help bring closure to the families of Mr. Grant and Mr. Scheerhoorn.”
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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.”