DNA test frees a man in Texas, implicates one in Georgia

For years, a man sat behind bars in Texas for a murder that police there now say he didn’t commit. Recent DNA testing has linked a man in Atlanta to the crime, authorities say.

Jermarico Carter, 41, was charged with murder last month after the testing, the Houston, Tex. Police Department said in a news release. The same testing excluded Lydell Grant, the 42-year-old who had been serving a life sentence.

Grant was convicted in 2012 in the fatal 2010 stabbing of a 28-year-old man outside a bar in Houston. A Crime Stoppers tip brought him into the case. Six eyewitnesses identified Grant, but DNA testing requested by the Innocence Project of Texas showed he couldn’t have done it, Houston police said.

Grant, who had spent thousands of hours in prison libraries crafting appeals, was freed from prison two days before Thanksgiving while the Houston Police Department re-investigated the case, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Grant emerged from a courthouse beaming, shallow dimples showing, as supporters chanted: “Free at last!”

“It’s been a long journey,” his mother Donna Poe said. “I dreamed of this day, for the holidays, when my son would be here with me and my family. This is just such a happy day.”

Houston police learned that Carter had moved to Georgia.

As it happened, Atlanta Police Department officers arrested him at a Decatur Street pawn shop on Dec. 19 after they learned of outstanding warrants for a probation violation in Statesboro and a larceny charge in Louisiana, according to an Atlanta police incident report. Carter was a customer at the shop.

Houston detectives soon interviewed Carter and say he “confessed to his role” in the Texas slaying. According to Houston’s KPRC 2 news channel, Houston police documents say Carter claimed Aaron Scheerhoorn pulled the knife on him and that Scheerhoorn was “probably” stabbed as they struggled.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo issued a statement about the case.

“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,” Acevedo 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.”

Efforts to reach relatives of Carter and to find out if he has an attorney haven’t been successful. As of Tuesday, Carter was in the Bulloch County jail, where he was transported on the Statesboro charge, and is awaiting extradition to Texas.

Grant was overjoyed to spend the holidays with his family for the first time in nine years.

“I’m just living my best life,” he told KPRC 2. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be home with your family, enjoying Christmas.”

Grant is soon to start a job at a factory and hopes to go to school for a degree in film production.

This article was written by Joshua Sharpe with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.