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Computer Algorithm Frees Texas Man but Exoneration Remains Elusive

Computer Algorithm Frees Texas Man but Exoneration Remains Elusive

Computer Algorithm Frees Texas Man but Exoneration Remains Elusive 1Last year the authorities freed Lydell Grant from a Texas jail after DNA evidence was revisited by new computer software. However, Grant is still battling to clear his name of a murder conviction almost a year later.

Grant was freed on bail after DNA in his case was examined by a software program, ABC News reported.

The analysis by a new software program of genetic evidence found on the victim’s fingernails pointed to Grant’s innocence in the fatal stabbing of Aaron Scheerhoorn in 2010.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office arrested another suspect in the slaying. The authorities released Grant from prison after he served almost a decade of his life sentence for murder.

Eyewitness testimony played an important part in Grant’s conviction. Genetic material was also taken from the victim’s fingernails. It was a mixture of that of two people; the victim’s and an unknown male. A Houston police lab was unable to link the DNA to Grant.

ABC News noted the Innocence Project of Texas started investigating the case more than two years ago. It was referred to the Texas A&M School of Law, which partners with the Innocence Project of Texas.

The law students researched the case. They paid particular attention to the DNA report that highlighted the mixture of genetic materials in the sample from the victim’s fingernails. The Houston crime lab had analyzed the material using a traditional method which makes it difficult to separate and interpret the data of two samples. Flawed DNA analysis in these cases often convicts innocent people.

Mike Ware, the executive director of the Innocence Project of Texas, worked on the case with DNA expert Angie Ambers, an associate professor of forensic science at the University of New Haven in Connecticut, ABC News reported.

Ambers worked with a type of DNA technology known as “probabilistic genotyping.”

“Years after Lydell Grant was convicted and sent to prison, there was a paradigm shift in how we interpreted DNA mixtures in criminal casework,. Rather than having a human DNA analyst interpret a mixture of DNA, computer software programs were developed to reduce the subjectivity in interpretation,” Ambers said.

The re-testing pointed to a hit on the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System that identified Jermarico Carter as the killer of Scheerhoorn. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said Carter has admitted to the killing.

Despite the clear evidence of Grant’s innocence, Texas’ highest criminal court is stalling on his exoneration. In July, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals demanded more information in the case.

The justices ruled that the case be remanded back to District Court, the District Court asked the district attorney’s office to get the six eyewitnesses who gave accounts at Grant’s trial to respond to his claims of innocence.

It asked that the District Court provides the TCCA with a picture of Jermarico Carter dated from the approximate time of the killing.

Grant is frustrated by the process. NBC News reported he must check in with his bail bondsman and is unable to get a job. He lives in fear that the police will pull him up for a minor infraction and return him to prison.

Ware said the algorithm-led DNA examination process has the potential to free thousands of innocent people who are locked up. He said there are probably as many as 5,000 to 6,000 wrongly convicted people in Texas prisons.

If you have been charged with a serious crime like murder, manslaughter or other violent crimes, it’s vital to hire experienced criminal defense lawyers who have worked on these cases in Texas. Please call us as soon as possible at (214) 720-9552.

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