Virginia court to hear Roy Watford innocence claim in 1977 rape case

Roy Watford (WAVY Photo)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WAVY) — The Virginia Supreme Court has agreed to hear an innocence claim filed by a Chesapeake man who pleaded guilty to a rape 40 years ago.

Roy Watford III was convicted in the rape of a 12-year-old girl in 1977. Watford was then an 18-year-old high school student.

Related: Watford continues fighting to clear his name

He has said he pleaded guilty on the advice of his grandfather to get a plea deal that meant no jail time. In exchange for his plea, authorities dropped a sodomy charge and he was given a 10-year suspended sentence for rape.

Watford’s lawyer filed an innocence petition in 2016. Attorney General Mark Herring motioned for the Virginia Supreme Court to dismiss the petition.

DNA testing in recent years failed to identify the genetic profile of Watford or his brothers, who were also charged with the crime.

The state Supreme Court has placed the case on its January docket.

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