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Circuit Attorney Will Not Re-Try Man After Convictions Overturned

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(KTVI) – In a story that FOX 2 and KPLR 11 have been following, George Allen, Junior, 56, from University City, will not be retried for convictions that were overturned last Friday. Allen had been convicted in the 1982 murder and rape of Mary Bell, 31, of the LaSalle Park neighborhood.

Cole County Judge Daniel Green overturned the capital murder, rape, sodomy and first degree burglary charges against Allen after determining evidence beneficial to him was withheld.

Related Story: U City Man’s Rape, Murder Convictions Overturned

In a statement Wednesday, the Circuit Attorney‘s office issued the following statement:

“Friday, Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green granted George Allen habeas corpus relief in connection with his conviction for the 1982 murder, rape, sodomy and burglary of Mary Bell in the City of St. Louis. Judge Green found that the cumulative effect of the Brady v. Maryland violations by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department deprived Mr. Allen of his right to a fair trial in 1983. Specifically, Judge Green found that police neglected to provide prosecutors with a map or diagram of the crime scene drawn by Mr. Allen and with criminalist’s notes discussing lab testing. Since the trial prosecutor did not have and did not know about these items, the items were not made available to Mr. Allen’s attorneys at trial, which would have been required by law. Judge Green’s ruling specifically finds that there was no evidence of prosecutorial misconduct, but rather, a failure of police to provide information to the Assistant Circuit Attorney assigned to the case. Judge Green’s ruling sent Mr. Allen’s case back to the St. Louis Circuit Court and to the Circuit Attorney’s Office to make the decision whether Mr. Allen will be retried for the 1982 crimes.

We have reviewed the facts and evidence concerning this matter in order to evaluate the viability of retrying Mr. Allen, and we have determined that a successful retrial of this case would be impossible.

Nearly three decades have passed since the crime occurred. A central piece of evidence in Mr. Allen’s original trial was his recorded confession to Detective Herb Riley. Detective Riley, who was the only witness to Allen’s entire taped statement, died in December of 1996. Because Detective Riley is not available as a witness, we are unable to effectively use the taped confession as evidence in a new trial. Accordingly, we are asking that Mr. Allen be released rather than returned to the City of St. Louis.

It is important to note that Judge Green’s ruling does not make a finding that Mr. Allen is innocent of the crimes with which he was charged. Many people feel strongly that Mr. Allen is innocent, and many others believe strongly in his guilt. Judge Green’s ruling does not

exonerate Mr. Allen, however, the failure of police to follow protocol during the initial investigation and trial is the reason Mr. Allen will be released.

The goal of the Circuit Attorney’s Office is to ensure justice is sought under the laws of the State of Missouri,” said Jennifer M. Joyce, Circuit Attorney for the City of St. Louis. “It’s important for citizens to know that it is very rare for a case to be granted habeas corpus, considering the thousands of cases that are appealed each year across the state of Missouri. While I believe it is critically important to respect a jury’s decision in criminal matters, I also believe it is essential that the rules of law are followed in every case by all members of law enforcement. Although this event occurred three decades ago, I believe this ruling provides an opportunity today for lessons to be learned to ensure the rights of all people are protected. My office stands ready to assist the police department in a review of their policies and procedures if so called upon.”

The Circuit Attorney’s Office is attempting to notify Ms. Bell’s family and is providing notice to the appropriate agencies regarding the decision not to retry this matter, so that Mr. Allen can be released from custody as quickly as possible.”

Innocence Project Deeply Disappointed that Missouri AG is Appealing the Court’s Decision Granting Habeas Relief to George Allen Jr.

Allen spent more than 30 years in prison for a rape and murder that new evidence, including DNA results, shows he didn’t commit

(ST. LOUIS, MO – November 7, 2012) — Hours after the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office decided not to retry George Allen Jr. for the rape and murder conviction that was overturned last week, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office announced it will appeal the court decision overturning the conviction.

On Friday, Cole County Judge Daniel Green vacated Allen’s conviction based on the state’s failure to disclose numerous pieces of evidence that point to Allen’s innocence and Attorney General Chris Koster’s decision potentially keeps Allen in prison beyond the three decades he has served already—all at the expense of the taxpayers.
“We are deeply disappointed that the Attorney General’s office is appealing Judge Green’s ruling,” said Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law. “This appeal is wholly without merit and needlessly drags out this extended litigation and potentially blocks George Allen’s release from prison.”

In order for the Attorney General to win this appeal he needs to show that the trial court abused its discretion in granting habeas relief and acted arbitrarily and unreasonably in doing so. In the meantime, the Attorney General’s appeal could keep Allen in prison until the Western District Court of Appeals’ can rule on the appeal. Allen’s attorneys will, however, ask that Allen be released on bail while the litigation is pending.

“The exculpatory evidence that resulted in Allen’s overturned conviction cannot be refuted. The semen excluded him. Fingerprints excluded him. And the court determined his false confession was unconvincing from the start,” said Scheck. “We are hopeful that the Court of Appeals will quickly recognize the appeal as a delay of the inevitable and rule to release Allen once and for all so he can be reunited with his family and finally receive the justice he is owed.”

Allen is represented by Scheck and Staff Attorney Olga Akselrod of the Innocence Project and Ameer Gado, Dan Harvath and Associate Tim O’Connell with Bryan Cave, LLP. Rosa Greenbaum of Sarasota, Florida also provided pro bono investigation assistance.

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