‘Right A Wrong’: Man Spends 20 Years Behind Bars For Couple’s Murder Before DNA Clears Him

A Georgia man who was freed last year after spending more than 20 years in prison for a couple’s 1985 murder had the charges against him formally dropped on Monday.

While Dennis Perry, 59, was released last July — after DNA linked another suspect to the shooting deaths of deacon Harold and Thelma Swain — the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that he still faced prosecution as the initial indictment was still valid. However, Brunswick Judge Stephen Scarlett and District Attorney Keith Higgins informed Perry on Monday that the evidence suggests he is innocent, and that he will be exonerated.

In March 1985, the Swains were attending a meeting at the Rising Daughter Baptist Church in Waverly when an attendee who excused herself found a man in the vestibule who claimed he needed to speak with Harold Swain, 66. The attendee had walked away before hearing a scuffle followed by four gunshots.

At some point, Thelma Swain, 63, rushed to the altercation and was also fatally shot. The gunman eventually fled the church.