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Oklahoma convict who got help from Innocence Project released after 30 years

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Perry Lott smiles as he leaves court in Ada on Monday. [Innocence Project via AP]

Perry Lott smiles as he leaves court in Ada on Monday. [Innocence Project via AP]

ADA — A rapist has been freed for "humanitarian reasons," not because he was innocent, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Perry James Lott, 56, was released Monday, more than 30 years after he was arrested for the robbery and rape of an Ada woman inside her home.

Under an agreement, his 300-year prison sentence was reduced to time served.

The Innocence Project, which represented him, said he had been wrongfully convicted.

"We believe that DNA and other new evidence clearly establish Perry Lott's innocence," attorney Karen Thompson said. "No physical evidence has ever connected him to these crimes."

Pontotoc County District Attorney Paul Smith said the right man was convicted at a jury trial in 1988. The DA said the new DNA evidence did not clear him.

"We fought over that for quite a while," Smith said. "He's never been declared innocent. That's not what this deal does."

The DA said the victim was "very strong" in her identification of Lott, picking him out both because of his appearance, particularly a partial gold tooth, and his voice.

"It's a pretty solid ID," he said.

DNA testing in 2014 on evidence from a rape kit excluded Lott as the source. The prosecutor, however, challenged the significance of the finding because the rapist had worn a condom and gloves.

The DA suggested the unknown DNA was from the skin cell of police detectives who gathered evidence or from lab workers.

"I think it's most likely contamination," Smith said of the DNA. "The likelihood of that is much stronger than the likelihood of another perpetrator."

Lott was seeking to have his conviction overturned.

The DA said an agreement was made because Lott has "already been punished a whole bunch," is reported to be in poor health and plans to move to Wisconsin.

"We don't know what the judge would have done with the evidence presented," he also said. "We can't find our victim."

The DA said the agreement also was made because of the microscopic chance Lott didn't do it.

The Innocence Project noted that the victim in an interview in 2014 said, "I can't think of anything that overly stands out that made me select him. ... I kept thinking, what if I chose the wrong one?"

Oklahoma City attorney Doug Parr, who also represented Lott, said the DA is not being logical in his statements about the unknown DNA found on the victim. Parr said the DNA came from "a very intimate location."

"The district attorney is grasping at straws to try to justify the conviction," Parr said.

After his release Monday, Lott went to eat at a Red Lobster.

"He said that for years, when he left prison, he wanted to have seafood," his Innocence Project attorney, Thompson, told The Associated Press.

Nolan Clay

Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His... Read more ›

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