RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A North Carolina man whose innocence claim on a rape conviction will be heard later this year is out of prison on parole.

The attorney for Willie Grimes says he was released Monday from the Gaston Correctional Center, where he was held on his conviction of raping a 69-year-old Hickory woman in 1987. Attorney Christine Mumma says Grimes had to register as a sex offender.

In April, the state Innocence Inquiry Commission unanimously agreed that enough credible evidence exists to refer Grimes' case to a three-judge panel. That panel will decide if Grimes should be declared innocent.

The 65-year-old Grimes has always maintained his innocence, even refusing to participate in prison programs that could have helped him reduce his sentence because he would have to admit guilt and express remorse.

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