RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s highest court has ordered an evidence-gathering hearing  in the case of a man who claims he didn’t commit the rape to which he pleaded guilty nearly four decades ago.

The Virginia Supreme Court said Monday that the Portsmouth Circuit Court must hold an evidentiary hearing within 90 days in the case of Roy Watford 3d. Watford says he was wrongfully convicted of the 1977 rape of a 12-year-old girl in Portsmouth and has argued that DNA evidence excludes as one of the girl’s three rapists.

Watford, who was 18 at the time, says he pleaded guilty because his grandfather feared his grandson would spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted at trial.

Watford was sentenced to 10 years’ probation in the case.

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