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DNA Evidence Clears Man Who Spent 40 Years in Prison for Rape

A man convicted of rape nearly 40 years ago has been released from prison after being exonerated by new DNA evidence.

Terry Larmar Talley of LaGrange was released from Dooly State Prison on Feb. 23, 2021 after serving four decades behind bars for crimes that he did not commit.

Talley was convicted of four sexual assaults that occurred within and around LaGrange College in 1981.

The now 63-year-old man was exonerated with the help of the Georgia Innocence Project. In 2008, non-profit organization filed an Extraordinary Motion for New Trial Post Conviction DNA testing in Troup County Superior Court on behalf of Talley and testing was ordered by Troup County Superior Court comparing DNA from the original sexual assault kit and Talley.

Talley’s DNA did not match the male DNA from the kit, so the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the LaGrange Police Department  began a review of case files from 1981.

A few years later in 2013, Judge Quillian Baldwin granted a new trial regarding the 1981 incident, and the Troup County District Attorney’s Office elected to not to proceed with prosecution for the new trial.

After reviewing the other cases involving Talley, LaGrange Police reopened the entire investigation in 2017 in an attempt to identify the suspect responsible for the rape of which Talley had been cleared.

The LaGrange Police Department says that during this reevaluation it was learned that a person of interest, initially believed to be deceased, was in fact still living. The subject was later contacted, but he refused to provide a DNA sample or cooperate with the investigation.

While continuing to work with the Georgia Innocence Project and the District Attorney’s office, the LaGrange Police Department was able to secure a search warrant for fingerprints and DNA from the person of interest from the 1981 incident.

The warrant was served on Feb. 24, 2021 —just one day after Talley was released from prison— allowing police to secure fingerprints and DNA samples from the person of interest, which was delivered to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations Crime Lab for analysis.

Police say the new case is still very active and further investigation is pending the results of the new DNA testing. There is no estimate on how long testing will take as it has been outsourced due to requiring special testing because of its age.

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