An Oklahoma judge has exonerated Perry Lott, a man who was imprisoned for 30 years for a 1987 rape and burglary. Post-conviction DNA testing from a rape kit revealed that Lott did not commit the crime. Although Lott was released from prison in 2018, his conviction remained until now.
- Exoneration: Pontotoc County District Judge Steven Kessinger issued the order that vacates Perry Lott’s conviction and permanently dismisses the case.
- Initial Release: Lott was released in 2018 after the DNA results were revealed, but only after agreeing to a deal that modified his sentence. The deal allowed him to remain free while his motion to vacate was litigated.
- Support: The Innocence Project, which played a significant role in freeing Lott, approached the newly elected District Attorney Erik Johnson, who agreed that the conviction should be vacated.
Lott expressed his relief and gratitude, stating, “I have never lost hope that this day would come. I had faith that the truth would prevail, even after 35 long years. I can finally shut this door and move on with my life.” The Innocence Project highlighted the significance of eyewitness misidentification, which is a leading factor in wrongful convictions.
Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project, criticized the former District Attorney’s refusal to acknowledge the evidence of Lott’s innocence, calling it a “blatant miscarriage of justice.” Oklahoma state law mandates that a conviction be vacated for a wrongfully convicted individual to seek compensation from the state.
The article also mentions other wrongful convictions in the same county, including the cases of Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot, which were featured in John Grisham’s book and documentary “The Innocent Man.” Lott’s exoneration follows other recent cases where individuals were wrongfully incarcerated for decades and later exonerated due to DNA evidence.
Original article source: DNYUZ