A 3-judge panel found Willie Grimes innocent after thirty-minutes of deliberation on Friday. Grimes had been sentenced to life in prison in 1987 after being convicted of two counts of first degree rape and one count of second degree kidnapping. He was paroled in May of this year after serving twenty-four years in prison.
Grimes’s case was heard in April by the Innocence Inquiry Commission, which unanimously agreed that enough evidence existed to refer his case to the 3-judge panel. The rape kit and hairs found at the scene had been lost and were unable to be utilized in exonerating Grimes. However, a fingerprint on a banana, which the victim had claimed her attacker may have touched, was analyzed and confirmed as belonging to someone other than Grimes. Grimes was represented by attorneys Chris Mumma, director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, and Robert Campbell of Hickory.