CATAWBA COUNTY—A man who said he was wrongfully convicted of rape decades ago is getting a chance possibly clear his name.
Willie Grimes, 66, has maintained his innocence since the crime happened in 1987. He and his attorneys went before a three-judge panel during an innocence hearing Monday. It is an innocence hearing Grimes has waited decades for.
Grimes spent more than 20 years in prison for the 1987 rape. He was paroled in May and has maintained his innocence since the day he was arrested.
The burden of proof is on Grimes. The judges must agree unanimously if Grimes' conviction is to be overturned. The defense argued six important areas during opening statements; including Grimes' alibi and fingerprint evidence they said ties another man to the crime scene.
The state said fingerprints aren't enough to prove Grimes' innocence and overturn the conviction.
The Catawba DA said if he hears evidence that clearly and completely proves Grimes' innocence during the hearing he'll join the defense.
Willie Grimes is expected testify and could take the stand as early as Tuesday morning.