After 30 years of incarceration, an Oklahoma man has been pronounced innocent of the crimes he was accused of. The courts convicted Perry Lott, 61, on charges of rape and burglary in 1988.
However, DNA testing on a rape kit conclusively proved his innocence of the crime for which he had been wrongly imprisoned and he was subsequently released in 2018. But former District Attorney Paul Smith contended that the DNA tests, while significant, did not entirely absolve him of guilt.
After a long-drawn legal battle, an Ada, Oklahoma judge permanently declared him innocent on Tuesday and closed his case. Now showing signs of old age and the need for a cane, Lott had spent a substantial portion of his life behind bars. Throughout his struggle, he maintained his unwavering belief that the truth would eventually come to light, according to the Daily Mail.
Lott was seen on Tuesday wearing a broad smile when he exited the courts. He walked out into the sunlight, accompanied by his daughter Candace Brown and Antoinette Brown, who had been his fiancée at the time of his arrest.
Lott said he had always kept the unwavering hope and faith that the day of exoneration would arrive, even after enduring three decades of wrongful conviction. He added that the decision will now give him the strength to close this chapter of his life and move forward.
His release in 2018 was part of an agreement that allowed him to leave prison while legal discussions continued regarding the DNA evidence and its impact on his rape conviction.
Former District Attorney Smith initially disagreed that the DNA evidence was sufficient to exonerate Lott. However, the current DA, Erik Johnson reevaluated the case and concurred that Lott’s conviction should be invalidated. The decision was influenced by the legal advocacy of the Innocence Project, which approached Johnson on behalf of Lott.
The Innocence Project’s Senior Staff Attorney, Adnan Sultan, emphasized that all evidence strongly supported Lott’s innocence but that he had been unjustly denied justice. He expressed gratitude to District Attorney Johnson for his dedication to correcting this miscarriage of justice.