A man who spent two decades behind bars after being convicted of killing a couple outside of a church Bible study class has been exonerated.
Judge Dropped All Charges Against Dennis Perry After Prosecutors Announced Newly Discovered DNA Evidence From Hair Sample Shows He “Could Have Been Acquitted Had This Evidence Been Available” At His Trial in 2003.
Mr Perry, 59, received two consecutive life sentences for the 1985 murder of Harold and Thelma Swain in Georgia following his arrest in 2000.
He was convicted largely on the testimony of his ex-girlfriend’s mother, who said Mr Perry told her he was planning to kill Harold Swain.
The state did not disclose to the defense team that the woman also received $ 12,000 as a reward for her testimony.
His release was secured with the help of the Georgia Innocence Project, which he thanked for their work in securing his freedom.
“It took a long time, but I never gave up,” Perry said after prosecutors announced he would not be retried.
“I knew someone else would see the truth eventually, and I am very grateful to the Georgia Innocence Project and King & Spalding (a law firm) for shedding light on the truth.
“This indictment has passed me for over 20 years, and it’s such a relief that I finally don’t have to worry about being accused of this horrible thing.”
The federal compensation standard for wrongly convicted persons is at least $ 50,000 per year of incarceration, plus an additional amount for each year spent on death row.
DNA evidence involved two hairs stuck in the hinges of a pair of glasses found at the scene of the murder.
In February 2020, private investigators working for Mr Perry obtained a hair sample from the mother of another suspect in the case, who has never been charged.
Officials say tests found hair DNA matched, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations has reopened the case.
Prosecutors now say DNA testing on Mr Perry’s pre-trial hair did not match him, and he was convicted based on circumstantial evidence.