Date set for hearing in Roy Watford’s innocence claim

Roy Watford (WAVY Photo)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A date has been set for a hearing to gather evidence in the case of a man who claims he didn’t commit a rape he pleaded guilty to nearly four decades ago.

Roy Watford says he was wrongfully convicted of the 1977 rape of a 12-year-old girl in Portsmouth.

Special Report: Fight for Innocence — The Roy Watford Story

Last month, the Virginia Supreme Court said the Portsmouth Circuit Court must hold an evidentiary hearing for the case. Watford is set to appear in court on April 17, according to his attorney.

Watford argues that DNA testing excludes him as one of the girl’s three rapists. Watford, who was 18 at the time, says he pleaded guilty because his grandfather was scared he’d spend the rest of life in prison if he was convicted at trial.

Watford was sentenced to 10 years of probation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.