HOUSTON – A Houston man once convicted of murder has been declared “actually innocent” by the state’s highest criminal court.
“This is a huge day for me. I thank God. I always got to put God first because it was him who I had when I didn’t have anyone else,” Lydell Grant said. “I was actually innocent. I didn’t commit this crime.”
In a news release Wednesday, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said the decision by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals means 44-year-old Grant 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 Ogg. “The highest responsibility of a prosecutor is to see that justice is done.”
Grant was convicted in 2012 and sentenced to life in prison for the stabbing death of Aaron Scheerhoorn outside of a Montrose bar. Six eyewitnesses to the 2010 stabbing testified against Grant at trial.
“I don’t ask for no sympathy. I don’t ask for anyone to feel sorry for me because I am strong,” Grant said during a news conference at his home on Wednesday.
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 wheels of justice move slowly - it’s been a long time coming but it’s here now,” said Mike Ware, Executive Director of Innocence Project of Texas. “Today’s decision would not have been possible without Lydell’s resiliency, his indomitable spirit, the unwavering support of his family and our entire legal team, as well as the Houston Police Department’s cold case detectives and the Harris County DA’s Conviction Integrity Unit.”
Grant is overjoyed at the court’s decision. Since his release, Grant has spent his time reconnecting with his family and studying audio engineering at American InterContinental University in Houston.
“My next step is going back to school and getting a degree in my passion and what I have a passion to do in life and that is audio engineering,” Grant said.
He also added that he’s writing a book about his experience with the justice system and being wrongfully convicted.
Grant is the third person from Harris County during the Ogg administration who 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.