After 41 Years, a Virginia Man Finally Gets Exonerated For A Crime He Didn’t Commit
By Victor Ochieng
It was 41 years ago when Roy L. Watford III, now 58-years-old, pleaded guilty to raping a 12-year-old girl. Despite having pleaded guilty to the heinous crime, he’s finally been unanimously exonerated by Virginia’s Supreme Court after DNA evidence revealed he didn’t do it.
Watford of Chesapeake, Virginia, chose to plead guilty of raping the girl at a time he was only 18 years old, doing so at the advice of his grandfather.
He said he chose to plead guilty in a plea deal that would see him evade prison time. However, he said the conviction has negatively impacted on him all his life, making it impossible for him to get decent jobs.
On Thursday, his fate changed after he was found not guilty following a 2016 DNA testing. After the DNA test results were presented to the top court, all the judges found him not guilty. It was a great moment for Watford. “The weight’s off my shoulders,” he said while speaking to the Richmond-Times Dispatch. Watford’s attorney, Jon Sheldon, requested for his client to be declared innocent after the DNA test results leaned in his favor.
“(Watford is) also very grateful that the Supreme Court of Virginia today recognized what he has been saying for almost 40 years – that he had nothing to do with the rape,” Sheldon said to the newspaper.
The DNA test results showed it wasn’t actually Watford’s sperms that were on the victim or in her clothes. The results also confirmed that the sperms weren’t of Watford’s younger brothers who were also treated as suspects in the case.
In her testimony, the victim said she got into an empty room where she saw one of Watford’s brothers and other men. A blanket was then used to cover her face making it impossible for her to see who raped her. She, however, said she couldn’t recall whether or not she saw or heard Watford in the room.