Virginia High Court Orders Hearing in Man's Innocence Claim

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s highest court has ordered that a hearing must be held to gather evidence in the case of a man who claims he didn’t commit a rape he pleaded guilty to nearly four decades ago.

The Virginia Supreme Court said Monday that the Portsmouth Circuit Court must hold an evidentiary hearing within 90 days in the case of Roy Watford III, who says he was wrongfully convicted of the 1977 rape of a 12-year-old girl in Portsmouth.

Watford argues that DNA testing excludes him as one of the girl’s three rapists. Watford, who was 18 at the time, says he pleaded guilty because his grandfather was scared he’d spend the rest of life in prison if he was convicted at trial.

Watford was sentenced to 10 years of probation.

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