George Perrot hugging his mother after he was released on Feb. 11, 2016. (Photo: Courtesy of the Innocence Project)

A Massachusetts man who was behind bars for more than 30 years based on the flawed FBI analysis of a single hair had his rape conviction overturned last year, and was granted a new trial.

Now the case against George Perrot has been completely dropped by prosecutors—making him the first person to have his conviction vacated and dismissed based on an ongoing, sweeping review of decades of hair evidence across the U.S.

Whether this first dismissal is the beginning of wave of reconsiderations and exonerations remains to be seen.

The dropped case was first reported by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Vanessa Antoun, the senior resource counsel of the group, said in a statement that the previous convictions of Perrot had focused on “scientifically unsupported” testimony. The Perrot case is one of 1,800 reviewed thus far, she added.

“We are hopeful that other convictions involving unreliable forensic evidence will also have a just result,” Antoun said in a statement on Friday. 

Perrot was accused of breaking into a home and raping an elderly woman named Mary Prekop in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1985.

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

Perrot had been tried and convicted, and then granted a new trial, twice between 1985 and 2003.

The victim testified in both trials that Perrot was not her attacker. But the single hair swayed a jury both times, according to court records.

A judge ruled in favor of a post-conviction motion to allow DNA testing of that single hair found in the victim’s bed, in 2012. But shortly thereafter authorities declared that the evidence had gone missing.

Hair analysis came under the national microscope in April 2015, when the FBI admitted its examiners had presented scientifically flawed hair analysis at criminal cases nationwide for multiple decades, occasionally resulting in innocent people being convicted for crimes they did not commit.

Judge Robert J. Kane of Bristol County Superior Court overturned the conviction just months later, in January 2016, saying “justice may not have been done” at the 1992 trial.

Perrot was released just a few weeks after that ruling, and has been free ever since.

However, the possibility of prosecutors filing new charges remained—until last week’s court filing by the prosecutor’s office.

“The interests and administration of justice are best served by the termination of prosecution of this matter,” wrote the Hampden District Attorney, in the filing.

“Grave miscarriages of justice like this underscore the critical importance of the DOJ and FBI’s recognitions that there is a duty to review and correct in criminal cases,” said Rick Jones, the president of the NACDL. “This case further illustrates why the government must expand its review to other forensic disciplines to ensure that the evidence used is scientifically valid.”

The case against Perrot was the subject of years of in-depth reporting by the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. Perrot told the outlet upon the dismissal of the case that he was grateful for his release, and newfound freedom.

“Words can’t express how grateful I am,” he said. “There were many times over the 30 years that I felt I would die as a convicted man. Now I am truly free.”

Forensic Magazine reported early this year that a dozen states were reviewing their criminal convictions involving hair analysis testimony.