Prosecutors in Springfield said Wednesday they are dismissing charges against George Perrot, a man who served 30 years in prison for a rape conviction that was overturned last year.
Perrot’s conviction hinged on the analysis of a single hair found at the scene of a rape of his neighbor in Springfield in 1985. The 78-year-old victim, who is now deceased, refused to identify Perrot as the person who person who beat and raped her, saying the man who assaulted her did not have a beard of a mustache -- facial hair that the 17-year-old Perrot had at the time of the crime, according to court documents.
Perrot, who is now 49, was freed on bail last year after a judge overturned his conviction. Prosecutors had appealed the judge’s ruling that granted Perrot a new trial, but have since agreed to drop that appeal. On Wednesday, Elizabeth Dunphy Farris, legal counsel to the Hampden district attorney, filed paperwork to drop outstanding charges in the case, which means prosecutors won’t be able to attempt to re-try Perrot.
Dunphy Farris wrote in court documents that “continued prosecution of this matter is not within the best interests or administration of justice.”
Perrot told the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, which began investigating his case in 2011, “Words can’t express how grateful I am for the team of individuals who made this exoneration happen. The people who stuck by me when I was at my lowest and never quit.”
He added, “This exoneration was hard fought and there were many times over the 30 years that I felt I would die as a convicted man. Now I am truly free.”
Since Perrot was first locked up, the FBI has acknowledged that nobody can identify a particular person as the source of a hair or say whether a match is even probable.
“For more than two decades, FBI agents erroneously testified or provided erroneous reports in practically every case where microscopic hair analysis was used to connect a person to a crime,” said Chris Fabricant, director of strategic litigation for the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and assisted in the case, in a statement. “Mr. Perrot’s case was one of the first to be identified. There are no doubt many others still fighting for justice.”
Kirsten Mayer, partner at Ropes & Gray LLP told the Innocence Project that Wednesday’s court filing was a “a vindication of George Perrot.”
“That our team could secure his release and bring a sense of resolution is humbling,” she said.Nestor Ramos and Yvonne Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.