A man convicted in the November 1987 rape of an Ada woman was released from prison Monday after his sentence was modified, effectively ending his incarceration for rape, robbery, burglary and making a bomb threat.
Perry James Lott, 56, maintained his innocence throughout 30 years of incarceration. Lott’s 1988 convictions carried more than a 200-year sentence for the crimes — crimes for which the New York-based Innocence Project asserts Lott was wrongfully convicted.
In a press release issued Monday, Innocence Project Senior Staff Attorney Karen Thompson said no physical evidence has ever connected Lott to the crimes.
Innocence Project officials said DNA testing performed in 2014 on the victim’s rape kit revealed a mixture of two males’ genetic material. However, Lott was excluded as the source of male genetic material found on the victim.
“We believe that DNA and other new evidence clearly establish Perry Lott’s innocence and show that the last 30 years he has spent incarcerated were years stolen from him by the State of Oklahoma,” Thompson said.
District 22 District Attorney Paul Smith disagreed with Thompson, arguing that the lack of any DNA evidence found against Lott does not necessarily invalidate his convictions. For that reason, Smith said, he declined to vacate the convictions, offering a sentence modification instead.
Smith said the offer was an effort to avoid what he called “protracted litigation” of the Innocence Project’s Application for Post Conviction Relief — a request by Lott’s attorneys to vacate the judgment and sentence reached in the original trial.
The district attorney said the offer was at least partially motivated by legal analysis which could have resulted in a new trial, producing further hardship for the victim.
“The new DNA evidence, in this case, is not conclusive but casts some concern of … contamination of the DNA sample …,” Smith said. “It’s not an exoneration.”
Smith said the possibility of the jury’s decision being vacated and, or a new trial being granted triggered a risk/reward analysis which, ultimately, led him to conclude that it would not be worth the additional cost to taxpayers and the added hardship on the victim to pursue the matter through yet another trial.
“The settlement is for time served of over 30 years, which is the equivalent of two life sentences if paroled,” Smith said. “The balance of the more than 100-year term will be suspended under the usual and customary sex offender registration.”
Under the terms of the settlement, Lott will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.