|Then: On February 1, 1986, Samuel Scott and Douglas Echols were enjoying an evening with a female friend. Elsewhere in Savannah, Georgia, a young woman leaving a nightclub was kidnapped and raped by three men. Despite eyewitness testimony placing them far from the crime scene, and despite a solid mistaken identity defense, Samuel and Douglas were convicted in 1987. Samuel was sentenced to twenty years for kidnapping and life for rape; Douglas Echols was given five years. While in prison, Samuel wrote his own legal briefs in an attempt to prove his innocence, but to no avail. Released on parole in 2001, Samuel was required to register as a sex offender and to wear an electronic monitoring device. Unable to pay the monthly monitoring fee, Samuel was rearrested in early 2002. Finally, on October 7, 2002, DNA evidence proved what Samuel had always known: both he and his friend Douglas Echols were innocent.
Now: Samuel recalls well how difficult it can be to adjust to freedom: “When I was first out, I was confused, afraid even to cross the street. Being on my own was hard because I had no real social connections.” In prison, Samuel learned to “stay out of harm’s way,” but also that “we are not alone in the world; we have to respect others.” Nor did incarceration destroy Samuel’s sense of humor. As he says with a laugh, “I never want to stand for head count again. And I’m so glad to have zip-up pants!” Happily married for three years, Samuel and his wife live in Pooler, Georgia. The Life After Exoneration Program has helped by providing emergency house payments and by offering Samuel the reassurance that he is truly not alone in this world or in the fight against wrongful conviction.
Hometown: San Jose, California