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111 – Texas Innocence Project Director Reveals the Most Egregious Wrongful Conviction of His Career

111 – Texas Innocence Project Director Reveals the Most Egregious Wrongful Conviction of His Career

 

Mike Ware is the Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Texas, where he champions the rights of the wrongfully convicted and tirelessly fights to overturn their sentences. In this compelling installment of Open Mike, he discusses the egregious case of Lydell Grant, a Houston man who was convicted on the basis of six false identifications, only to be released from prison a decade later once crime scene evidence was finally run through proper DNA testing.

How can faulty identification processes be improved upon to avoid these miscarriages of justice? Why did it take a decade for DNA evidence to be reviewed when a man’s life was on the line?

Find out, on this all-new episode of Open Mike!

Show Notes

[00:11] Mike Ware’s background as director of Innocence Project of Texas.

[02:28] Welcome to Open Mike! So, tell us, how and why did you get involved in the Lydell Grant murder case?

[04:50] Was that a flat-out lie?

[05:34] At trial they determined the fingernail evidence was inconclusive?

[06:23] Did the defense have the DNA looked at by their own expert?

[07:39] Mr. Grant was identified by six eyewitnesses… the reason you were able to get him out of prison was due to the DNA. But the reason he was locked up to begin with was due to the eyewitnesses… Is the way that the murder happened relevant to his story?

[11:01] Lots of people saw the perpetrator… I assume there was some kind of composite done?

[12:24] How did the police find Mr. Grant?

[13:29] The identification process wasn’t videoed or recorded… were the suggestive tones, or finger pointing from the police? We don’t know because these IDs were conducted in people’s homes and other locations.

[15:06] The identifications weren’t conducted in a double-blind manner, meaning the detective presenting the photo spread to the witnesses knew which person in the spread was the suspect.

[16:22] How did Lydell’s trial go? From what I read, he had court-appointed counsel.

[18:00] In Mike Ware’s experience, jurors never believe alibi witnesses. 

[19:32] Lydell was sentenced to life and wrote a letter to your offices, where it was vetted by law student staff. And what’s really impressive is that one of the students found the DNA anomalies. This law student saved this guy’s life!

[21:33] How quickly after finding the DNA anomaly were you able to get the actual suspect’s name?

[29:22] So, rather than investigate the actual suspect, they want to keep investigating Lydell, who’s been in prison all this time? That’s very strange.

[30:24] Did Mr. Grant know what was going on throughout all these months that there was another suspect? Or did you keep him in the dark as to not get his hopes up?

[33:49] The technology was there in 2011. Had they properly tested the evidence back then, they would’ve found the suspect in the system then.

[35:24] You mention the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals sat on the case, but I have a note that they refused his exoneration request, and then asked the six eyewitnesses who falsely identified him to respond to his claims of innocence!

[37:22] It took ten years for the judges to get affidavits from the eyewitnesses explaining their current position.

[41:12] Is Mr. Grant going to get some money in the state of Texas for his wrongful conviction?

[41:50] Under Texas state law, Mr. Grant is entitled to $80,000 per year for every year he was locked up.

[43:21] You mentioned this law you got passed… not even half the states have proper identification law, stating it has to be blind on both sides… how do we get that passed in every state?

[46:12] I saw a statistic that over 5,000 or more people in Texan prisons are innocent. Is that true?

[46:55] You’re in a tough state, a conservative state, and the fact that you have an Innocence Project is astounding. You’re doing great work. I appreciate it, and I’m sure the people of Texas appreciate it. If people watching want to help, how can they do that?

[47:19] Make sure to visit their website, or even call Mike Ware on his cell phone! 817-992-1132.

[47:36] Thank you, Mike, for being on Open Mike. These stories are so important to tell. I think Mr. Grant is really lucky you set up such a great team to review his case. Congrats on all your success and thank you for coming on the show.

[48:29] Texas Innocence Project came through for Lydell Grant. Six eyewitnesses says he killed a man, and they were dead wrong! The actual killer, proven by DNA evidence, is currently on trial. Let us know what you think about this case. I’d love to hear from you. If you know someone who needs to hear this episode, pass this along, comment, like, and subscribe. Thank you for being a fan of Open Mike, and we’ll see you next time!

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