Man cleared in '87 rape case says police cost him 25 years of life

GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - After spending almost 25 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, Willie Grimes says he doesn't hold a grudge against the people who put him there. But he wants answers.

"I would like to know why he really didn't take initiative to do his job because, I wouldn't have been in prison point blank," Grimes said Thursday afternoon from his Gastonia home.

Grimes partially blames the lead detective in the case against him for the wrongful conviction.

Chris Mumma with the North Carolina Center for Actual Innocence says the investigator didn't hand over evidence that could have freed Grimes.

Mumma was a part of the force that put Grimes' case before the NC Innocence Inquiry Commission who cleared him last Friday.

"Even when he was exonerated, it really was bitter sweet. I have bitterness for what happened, it could have been prevented," Mumma said.

Grimes is working for a utility company since his release last May. He says his faith keeps him from being angry at the people he says cost him his freedom for 25 years.