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Scotty Scott

Other Arkansas Cases
In November 1981, 45-year-old Betty Thornton, a cashier at a Little Rock, Arkansas convenience store, was robbed and murdered.

An eyewitness, who was Black, identified 20-year-old Scotty Scott, a white man, from a photo lineup as the man who posed as the cashier after Thornton was shot.  The identification was problematic because Scott was the only man in the lineup who resembled the description of the perpetrator and cross-racial identifications are subject to higher rates of error due to the difficulty of identifying someone of another race.  Two other eyewitnesses testified that they saw Scott at the store around the time of the murder.  Scott admitted that he was at the store, but said that he remained in the parking lot on a pay phone.

Scott’s first trial in 1982 ended with a hung jury, but at a second trial in May 1983, a jury convicted Scott of first-degree murder and he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.  Scott remained free on bond while he appealed his case. 
In 1984, Henry Lee Lucas confessed to Thornton’s murder.  Based on that confession, a Pulaski County Circuit Court judge granted Scott a new trial in August 1984. Scott’s retrial was delayed for several years because of his health problems. During the delay, Lucas recanted his confession, one of dozens of his confessions that would prove to be false, and an investigation revealed that he was in Florida at the time of the crime. While Lucas confessed to more than 100 murders but was only convicted in 11 of those deaths. Lucas would claim he was tortured by investigators, and later examinations would also show that many of the confessions were the result of misconduct by investigators eager to clear cold cases.

Scott’s third trial was held in May 1989. At that trial, the eye witness who had identified Scott and said he stood eye to eye with the killer was shown that the killer was standing on a platform about 9 inches higher than where the witness was standing. The witness realized that Scott could not have been the killer because he and Scott were the same height--if Scott had been on the platform, they would not have been standing eye to eye. On May 12, 1989, a jury acquitted him of all charges. Scott was not compensated in any fashion.
- Stephanie Denzel

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 3/23/2021
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1981
Sentence:25 years
Age at the date of reported crime:20
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No