The case built on a single strand of hair: In 1985, a 78-year-old woman in Springfield, Massachusetts was raped. 19-year-old George Perrot was arrested for the crime, despite the victim’s inability to identify him as her attacker. She described the man that attacked her as clean shaven, but at the time Perrot had a beard.
The victim was unable to identify Perrot in police lineups and continued to deny that he was her attacker in both of his trials. Because of this, prosecutors relied on a blood sample, gloves found at the scene, and a single strand of hair from the victim’s home. The faulty forensic procedures used on the hair sample became especially pressing in Perrot’s case for innocence. At the time of Perrot’s 1985 and 1992 trials, DNA testing was not available. Instead, hair analysis was used. This consisted of a microscopic hair comparison analysis where two hair samples were compared for color, shape, thickness and any other characteristics. The FBI stated in 2000 that hair analysis experts entered flawed testimony in 90% of cases that it reviewed.
In February of 2016, Judge Robert J. Kane overturned Perrot’s conviction, stating that the hair analysis was not supported by science and never should have been admitted as evidence. On February 11th, 2016, Perrot was released on his own recognizance. He still awaits his full exoneration.