Attorney Page Pate is one of the founding members of the Georgia Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization that has worked, pro bono, to correct wrongful convictions in Georgia. Through the work of the Georgia Innocence Project, a number of wrongfully convicted individuals have been able to secure their release from prison.
In this case, Dennis Perry was convicted of the murders of Harold and Thelma Swain in 1985, in a Camden County, Georgia church. Mr. Perry spent 20 years in prison after being convicted for crimes that were not supported by the evidence. With the modern developments involving DNA testing and through the work of the Georgia Innocence Project, it was determined that Mr. Perry was not at the scene of the crimes and was not involved in the murders of Mr. and Mrs. Swain in 1985. Based on the new DNA evidence, Mr. Perry was released from prison on bond in July 2020. Recently, Keith Huggins, the new District Attorney in Brunswick, Georgia, filed a motion to drop the charges against Mr. Perry and has declined to pursue further prosecution of Mr. Perry.
First Coast News interviewed Page about Mr. Perry’s exoneration, to which Page comments “It is huge…it has taken a long time. Decades ago this crime was committed. They pursued Mr. Perry, despite the fact that the evidence against him was shaky for decades, and they locked him up for what now appears to be a crime he did not commit for over 20 years in prison. But the DNA that’s recently shown that he was not there, he was not involved, certainly opens the case back up. And instead of requiring that they first convict somebody who actually committed the crime, the D.A. in Brunswick, our new district attorney, simply decided that it was no longer fair or just to pursue a case against Dennis Perry. The evidence is simply not there.”
Page also said “”I’m certainly happy for Dennis and his family,” Pate said. “I mean, this has been a long time coming. He’s maintained his innocence for over 30 years. We’re very happy that this day is finally calm. I mean, he’s been out of jail now for several months, I guess almost a year based on the judge’s order to allow him out on bond. But the charges were still hanging over his head. And now we hope that will be dismissed on Monday.”
On Monday, July 19, 2021, Chief Judge Stephen G. Scarlett Sr., of the Glynn County Superior Court, granted the District Attorney’s motion dismissing all charges against Mr. Perry. In 2020, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation reopened the investigation into the Swain’s murders, but no arrests have been made.