AG motions court to dismiss petition for Chesapeake man in 1977 rape case

Photo courtesy: Roy Watford
Photo courtesy: Roy Watford

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The Office of Attorney General Mark Herring has motioned for the Virginia Supreme Court to dismiss a petition for writ of innocence for one Chesapeake man.

10 On Your Side reported in August that a petition was filed on behalf of Roy Watford for writ of actual innocence.

Herring’s office motioned Monday, Oct. 24, for the court to dismiss or deny the petition.

Special Report: Fight for Innocence — The Roy Watford Story

Watford and his three brothers were accused of raping a 12-year-old girl in 1977.

Court paperwork showed Watford’s DNA was not part of the evidence collected in the case. Watford gave saliva sample this year, which results show did not match DNA that was tested for the crime.

The cases against Anthony and Evelio Watford were dismissed and dropped, respectively.

READ: Commonwealth Response to Watford Petition

Roy Watford ended up pleading guilty to rape in exchange for no prison time for a crime he says he did not commit.

In the filing dated Oct. 24, the Attorney General’s office calls the case unsettling, but states:

The Commonwealth acknowledges that this is a difficult case; individual fact finders might weigh the evidence differently.  The burden Watford must meet, however, is to show that no rational fact finder would have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in light of his proffered evidence. Watford has not met that demanding burden.

Watford’s attorney Jon Sheldon says he is reviewing the filing and has 20 days to respond.

A spokesman for the office of Mark Herring says the Virginia Supreme Court will have an opportunity to consider the new DNA evidence, and determine if Watford should be granted writ of actual innocence.