George Allen Jr.’s mother, Lonzetta Taylor, never doubted her son’s innocence. When asked why, she repeated what she said three decades ago: “Because he was with us at the time of the crime.” As reported and recorded (here), Taylor said that she was just “overjoyed” to see her son released today. She added, “I knew he’d get out in God’s time.”
Allen, 56, has served 30 years of a 95-year sentence after being convicted of the rape and murder of Mary Bell of St. Louis. A summary of the case was published earlier this month (here).
Cole County (MO) Circuit Judge Dan Green recently vacated Allen’s conviction based on the discovery that numerous pieces of evidence pointing to Allen’s innocence were not shared by the prosecution with the defense, as required by Brady v. Maryland. Included was the fact that the blood type of the perpetrator was inconsistent with Allen’s and that semen from two other men was found on the victim’s robe.
DNA testing on the victim’s robe and fingerprints from the crime scene acquired by the Innocence Project did not match Allen. His lawyers argued that Allen, a schizophrenic, had given a coached confession.
St. Louis Circuit Court Attorney Jennifer Joyce announced last week that she would not retry Allen. As reported (here), she based her decision on “the failure of police to follow protocol during the initial investigation and trial.”
But when Cole County Judge Green signed the release order today he explained to Allen that he will not be the last judge to review the case. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has appealed the case to the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals. Judge Green warned Allen that the Missouri Supreme Court may also eventually review the case, and he would have to live with the decision of these courts.
However, Attorney General Koster’s statement on the decision to appeal implied that the Court of Appeals could be the last stop for Allen:
“As this office has stated previously in similar situations, the appellate process provides a system of checks and balances on our state’s trial court decisions. We believe the facts and circumstances of the case and the trial court’s findings should be examined by the appellate court as part of the normal safeguarding process.
We will defer to the Western District Court of Appeals’ decision in this matter, and if the court determines the judge’s ruling is correct, we will not pursue further action.”