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(Shutterstock)A man who has spent 30 years behind bars for a 1985 rape will get a whole new trial, since the hair analysis used to convict him has since been proven to be junk science, a Massachusetts judge ruled last week.

The decision could be the beginning of a wave of reevaluations of cases involving the method, which has since become a major scandal for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

George D. Perrot was arrested for break-in and rape of an elderly woman in Springfield. He was convicted in 1992 based on the hair analysis, according to the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, which has taken years to look at the case in-depth.

Perrot and the victim both denied he was the attacker, and this is the third time the Perrot conviction has been overturned.

Judge Robert J. Kane ruled that the hair analysis by an FBI expert was so flawed – and the results so important in the conviction – that the 48-year-old Perrot must now have a new trial. Perrot will get a bail hearing next week as Hampden County prosecutors decide whether to appeal, try him again, or drop the case.

“The court determines that ‘justice may not have been done’ at Perrot’s 1992 trial because of the introduction of hair evidence that in numerous and material respects exceeded the foundational science,” the judge writes. “In making that judgement, the court determines that it was not until decades after Perrot’s 1992 trial that errors in testimony on hair evidence came to be authoritatively recognized and addressed.”

The defendant’s attorney, Nicholas Perros, said: “This decision acknowledges that George never received a fair trial.”

The FBI analyst told the judge and a jury in 1992 that he could positively identify Perrot using just a single hair found at the home of the 78-year-old victim.

READ MORE: Four States Auditing Cases Involving Flawed FBI Hair Analysis

A handwritten note from the first prosecutor on the case has apparently pointed toward potentially-exculpatory blood tests.

In 2012 a judge ruled in favor of a post-conviction motion to allow DNA testing of the single strand of hair found on the victim’s bed – but the evidence by then was declared missing, according to the Schuster Institute.

An example of hair under a microscope at 600X. (Shutterstock)

Last April, the FBI announced that the vast majority of its hair-analysis cases from 1985 to 1999 involved compromised science. The agency said they were reviewing more than 3,000 cases involving the expert testimony. At least four states have also begun auditing convictions in the wake of the revelations. One of those states was Massachusetts.

Kane, the Massachusetts judge ruling in the Perrot case, said the scientific consensus on hair is completely changed in the decades since Perrot was locked away.

“The 2008 National Academy of Science report on the limits of hair evidence caused the FBI to audit hair evidence and to determine that (the expert’s) testimony at Perrot’s 1992 trial contained seven occasional where (the expert) exceeded the foundational science,” the ruling states.

Perrot’s supporters are pushing for his release.

“The fact that George has served three decades in prison for a rape that the victim, Mary Prekop, repeatedly told authorities he didn’t commit is beyond tragic,” said Florence Graves, founding director of the Schuster Institute. “Moreover, George’s case showcases the devastating impact of a criminal justice system that takes decades to acknowledge that thousands of people have been found guilty based on deeply flawed forensic science.

“I believe Judge Kane’s decision will give others still in prison real hope,” Graves added. 

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