Thirty years ago a mentally ill man was arrested for the murder of a 31 year old woman.. The case looked nice and tidy it even had a confession, but that wasn't the case. It turns out the detectives and police that worked the case coerced the confession, hid fingerprint evidence, and disregarded DNA material that ruled out George Allen. They fixated on him and put together a false case, that got him convicted.
Imagine spending 30 years in prison for a crime you didn't commit...Now being released into a new world with no work experience, no money, no education, and 30 years of missed opportunities. Here is the article that tells the terrible story of the wrong conviction and the final correction of the mistake. Thank God he partnered up with the criminal defense lawyers at the innocence project.
30-Year inmate freed after conviction tossed
inmate imprisoned nearly three decades for a rape and murder conviction
walked free Wednesday after a judge ruled that St. Louis police hid or
destroyed evidence that cast doubt on his guilt while misleading the
mentally ill man into a false confession.
donated clothes and appearing frail, George Allen Jr., 56, grinned as he
hugged friends, family and supporters outside the Cole County
courthouse moments after a brief hearing before Circuit Judge Daniel
Green. "I have spent 30 years in prison as an innocent man, but I
never gave up hope," Allen said, reading from a prepared statement. "I
knew some day the truth would come out... Thank God this nightmare has
Allen, who suffers from schizophrenia and was
blinded in one eye during his lengthy imprisonment, served 29 years of a
95-year sentence - and narrowly avoided the death penalty - in the
February 1982 death of 31-year-old Mary Bell. She was attacked and
killed in her St. Louis apartment during a blinding February snowstorm.
Three witnesses testified that Allen was 10 miles away at his mother's
home in University City at the time of Bell's attack during a historic
blizzard that crippled the St. Louis region.
On Nov. 2, Green
ordered Allen's release in a blistering 75-page ruling that suggested
St. Louis police ignored and suppressed numerous pieces of evidence.
Among them were blood tests that ruled out Allen as the source of the
semen found on Bell's robe and fingerprints rejected by investigators as
unusable smudges that not only excluded him but were also used in
comparison with other suspects.
There also were questions about
the accuracy of testimony by Bell co-worker, who said she called out her
friend's name outside the victim's apartment during the attack. Police
detectives sent the co-worker to a hypnotist to shore up her account, a
session that wasn't disclosed to Allen's previous defense lawyers.
undisclosed evidence was unearthed within the past two years by lawyers
working for and with the Innocence Project, the New York group that has
helped free hundreds of wrongfully convicted inmates nationwide, often
by relying on more advanced, previously unavailable DNA technology.
Several lawyers from the St. Louis firm Bryan Cave also assisted Allen's
defense on a pro bono basis.
looking forward to some home cooking by Mom. His sister was there and
he was able to hug and kiss those people for the first time in decades.
There was not a dry eye in the house, I don't think," said Laura
O'Sullivan, a local member of the Innocence Project.
Some law students from the University of Missouri-Kansas City attended Wednesday's hearing.
Project attorney Olga Akselrod said the group plans to request a formal
review by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce of all cases
handled by now-deceased St. Louis homicide detective Herb Riley and
criminologist Joseph Crow, both of whom were singled out for
questionable conduct in Green's ruling.
The judge found that
Riley steered Allen into falsely confessing after more than 40 denials
while overlooking details provided by Allen that didn't match the
circumstances of Bell's death. Allen claimed he was threatened and
beaten during the interrogation, but the judge doesn't address that
And a lab report written by Crow contained
scratched-out notes describing the blood test results that eliminated
Allen as a source.
"We have serious concerns that this case is not an outlier," Akselrod said.
who last week declined to again prosecute Allen but cited procedural
flaws rather than certainty about Allen's innocence, did not immediately
respond to a request for comment. A Joyce spokeswoman said the
prosecutor was preparing a written response for release later Wednesday.
release is not the end of his legal process. The Missouri Attorney
General's Office is appealing Green's ruling and opposed his release on
his own recognizance, stances that drew sharp criticism from defense lawyers. "This appeal has just extended the pain and heartache
for Mr. Allen and his family," Akselrod said. "They're just wasting the
state's resources needlessly." State prosecutors responded with a
written statement provided by a spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris
Koster and attributed to deputy attorney general Joe Dandurand.
trial judge is the first and only person to have found Mr. Allen to
have been prejudiced during his trial," the statement reads. "Numerous
judges and courts have affirmed Mr. Allen's convictions in the years
following the jury's verdict. " Dandurand added that the state's
appeal is "part of the normal safeguarding process." Should the Western
District Court of Appeals uphold Green's ruling, the state won't further
pursue the case, he said.
Among those attending Allen's hearing
was Josh Kezer, one of the 22 Missouri inmates who have been exonerated
over the past two decades. Kezer was released in 2009 after spending
more than 15 years in prison for the murder of a southeast Missouri
college student. He too was released after a Cole County judge found
that prosecutors withheld key evidence from defense attorneys.
was arrested about a month after Bell's attack when police mistook him
for a convicted rapist whom he reportedly resembled, in part because
both were African-Americans in their 20s with shaved heads. Officers who
interviewed Allen before Riley dismissed him as a suspect.