A Georgia man wrongly convicted of rape was released in late February after spending 40 years in prison.
In 1981, Terry Lamar Talley was “wrongfully convicted of three counts of rape and three counts of attempted rape in 1981, and faced multiple life sentences,” WRBL reported.
“It was hard going to court, you know, sitting there listening to them accusing him of all, all these raping things and I knew, I knew from my heart that he did not do it,” Talley’s mother, Joann, told the outlet.
But with the help of the Georgia Innocence Project, Talley was finally released on February 23 and reunited with his family.
Talley’s sister did some research, WRBL reported, and convinced him to reach out to GIP, which he did so in 2004. The organization agreed to take his case, and two years later filed an Extraordinary motion for New Trial Post Conviction DNA testing to get Talley’s sentence overturned. Clare Gilbert, executive director of GIP, told WRBL that one of the issues in Talley’s case was evidence of someone “making false statements on the witness stand.”
In 2009, testing determined that the DNA evidence found on the victims did not come from Talley.
“In my professional opinion, as well as the people that have been involved in this investigation with me, is, there were investigative leads and suspects that were not thoroughly followed up on in 1981,” said Sgt. Mark Cavendar, who works in the LaGrange Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Section.
In 2013, Judge Quillian Baldwin granted Talley a new trial. Police were then able to identify a second suspect in the decades-old case. That suspect was asked to provide a DNA sample in 2017 but refused. In 2020, this second suspect was given a warrant to collect his DNA, which ended up matching the DNA evidence taken during the original sexual assault investigation.
The new evidence allowed Talley’s case to be reopened, with the Troup County District Attorney’s Office saying that the new evidence was enough to release Talley.
“As a mother, I feel like he was born all over again from a baby up to now,” Joann said of being reunited with her son. “I can enjoy the life here with him that I have missed for so many years and we can rejoice together and learn more about each other.”
Once released, Talley’s first stop was to see his mother.
“They embraced me like I had never left, that’s the type of love they show, that’s our family love, I appreciated it,” Talley said of his family.
As The Daily Wire has previously reported, DNA evidence continues to help those wrongfully convicted of heinous crimes go free. In mid-February, The Daily Wire reported the story of Ian Simmers, who spent 23 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. In the Simmers case, DNA evidence determined he could not have committed the crime and he was released from prison in 2019. He’s now suing King County in Washington State, the city of Bothell, and several members of law enforcement. In January, The Daily Wire reported that David Faulkner was released after spending 20 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. DNA also excluded him as the perpetrator.