An innocent Oklahoma man who spent 30 years behind bars for crimes he didn't commit has finally been exonerated for rape and burglary. Perry Lott
An innocent Oklahoma man who spent 30 years behind bars for crimes he didn’t commit has finally been exonerated for rape and burglary.
Perry Lott, 61, was wrongly convicted of the felonies in 1988 – and he was released in 2018 after DNA testing from a rape kit showed he did not commit the crime.
But lawyers continued to argue over whether his convictions could be thrown out, with the former District Attorney Paul Smith arguing that the tests did not completely clear him.
It was not until Tuesday that a judge in Ada, Oklahoma, exonerated Lott and permanently dismissed the case.
Lott, who is now graying and uses a cane to walk, has spent half his life in prison – but he said he ‘never lost hope’ that eventually ‘the truth would prevail’.
Lott, 61, was wrongly convicted of the felonies in 1988 – and he was released in 2018 after DNA testing from a rape kit showed he did not commit the crime
Oklahoma man Perry Lott (pictured) spent 30 years behind bars for crimes he didn’t commit. He has finally been exonerated for rape and burglary after being freed in 2018
It was not until Tuesday that a judge in Ada, Oklahoma, exonerated Lott and permanently dismissed the case. (Pictured: Perry Lott, left, goes to hug Innocence Project founder Barry Scheck, who advocated for him, after the Judge vacated his conviction)
He was pictured grinning as he walked out of the courthouse on Tuesday with his name finally cleared.
Lott strolled out into the sunlight beside his daughter Candace Brown, and his fiancee at the time of his arrest, Antoinette Brown.
‘I have never lost hope that this day would come,’ Lott, 61, said in a statement. ‘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 agreement which saw Lott freed in 2018 meant he could be released from prison while lawyers argued over whether the DNA evidence cleared him of the rape.
At the time, DA Smith said it did not, but his successor this year Erik Johnson reviewed the case and agreed that Lott’s conviction should be thrown out.
This also came after legal organization the Innocence Project approached Johnson to advocate for Lott.
Innocence Project Senior Staff Attorney Adnan Sultan said ‘all evidence pointed to his innocence’ but Lott was ‘denied justice’.
‘We are grateful to District Attorney Erik Johnson for his commitment to righting this wrong,’ Sultan said.
Perry Lott, with a mustache, in the photo lineup compared to the police composite sketch of the assailant, a man without a mustache
Lott inside a courtroom in Oklahoma City, July 9, 2018, with his brother Steve Lott, left; sister Tammy Lott, center; and brother Willie Lott, right; after being freed from prison when the Innocence Project presented DNA evidence which excluded him from the crime
Lott appears before Judge Steven Kessinger at the Pontotoc County Courthouse to vacate his 1988 conviction of rape Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023
Oklahoma state law requires a conviction to be vacated in order for a wrongfully convicted person to be able to seek up to $175,000 in compensation from the state.
Lott’s case occurred around the same time and in the same county as the convictions of Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot.
Their cases have come under intense scrutiny and have been the subject of numerous books, including John Grisham’s ‘The Innocent Man,’ which he produced into a six-part documentary on Netflix.
A federal judge ordered Fontenot released, but Ward remains in prison.
The books and documentary also feature the high-profile exoneration of Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz, who both were convicted in the same county for the 1982 killing of Ada waitress Debra Sue Carter.
That case featured the same cast of investigators and prosecutors, along with the same jailhouse informant who testified against Ward and Fontenot.
Williamson at one point came within days of being executed. Both were later freed.