The legal system on Monday acknowledged what Dennis Perry already knew – he was an innocent man.
Perry was convicted in 2003 of 1985 murders of a black couple in a southern Georgia church and received two consecutive life sentences. On Monday, under the weight of new evidence including DNA testing, the charges against him were officially dropped.
Although Perry, now 59, was released from prison a year ago after DNA evidence tied another man to the crime, serving 20 years in prison both before and after the trial, the old indictment still hangs. hovering over his head.
On Monday, Brunswick District Attorney Keith Higgins called for the charges to be formally dropped, saying he was there to be “right and wrong”, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
He said he met with Perry’s family and consulted with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
“They have given me their blessing and approval to bring this petition before the court,” Higgins said at the hearing, according to WAGA-TV.
“When I met GBI, they also expressed their opinion that they did not believe that Dennis Perry committed these murders and they also blessed me.”
Perry gave a short speech in court.
“After what happened to me, I lost faith in the justice system. I’m sure you can understand that,” Perry said, according to Constitution Magazine.
Although police have identified the DNA found at the scene as that of another man, the man has not been charged.
Perry said he prayed for Justice for the victims.
“I pray every day for justice for Harold and Thelma Swain. God bless you,” he said.
Just minutes ago, Judge Stephen Scarlett of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit signed an order COMPLETELY REFLECTING Dennis Perry regarding the 1985 church killings of Harold and Thelma Swain.
Dennis Forgiveness is the result of an incredible effort by GIP, King & Spalding and YOU! pic.twitter.com/bZv3MHi8KN
– The Georgia Innocence Project (@GaInnocence) July 19, 2021
Suzanne Baugh, Perry’s cousin, said: “You can’t understand that someone has had 20 years of their life taken away from them,” said Suzanne Baugh, Perry’s cousin.
Baugh had harsh words for Prosecutors, who at the time of Perry’s conviction failed to disclose that a key witness against him – the mother of his ex-girlfriend – received a $12,000 bounty to testify.
Baugh added: “I don’t believe they hid it from Dennis’ lawyers. “I laughed so hard it was so crooked.”
The Georgia Innocence Project helped free Perry.
“The prosecutor is seeking the death penalty and the jury convicted him on very thin and unreliable evidence,” said Clare Gilbert, GIP executive director. GIP executive, said, who noted Perry avoided the death penalty by waiving the right to appeal.
“We need to think about some real reforms to make sure that things like this don’t happen again in the future, or they can be fixed more easily,” she said.
Although Perry is free, Georgia is a state where wrongly convicted people are not automatically compensated.
“It was all taken by me,” Perry said.
“At this point in my life, I should be able to afford it so that my wife and I can think about retirement. Instead, I have no income. My health is not good, and I have to start from scratch. I am grateful for this part of the nightmare that is behind me. However, I will deal every day with what happened to me,” he said.
Perry endorsed Gilbert’s calls for reform.
“I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through,” Perry said, according to WAGA.
https://www.westernjournal.com/georgia-man-exonerated-murder-charges-serving-20-years-two-life-sentences/ | Georgia Man Exonerated of Murder Charges After Serving 20 Years of Two Life Sentences