Wed December 26, 2012
Appeals Court Vacates George Allen's Murder Conviction
Updated at 5 p.m. with statement from circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce. Previously updated with statement for Attorney General Chris Koster.
George Allen is a free man, likely for good.
A Missouri appeals court today upheld a lower court ruling that vacated Allen's 1983 rape and murder convictions in the death of court reporter Mary Bell.
Cole County judge Daniel Green threw out the convictions in early November because police investigating the crime failed to provide prosecutors key pieces of evidence that pointed to Allen's innocence. The evidence included a report that showed fluid on Bell's robe likely did not come from Allen because it was a different blood type, and the fact that three fingerprints at the scene did not match Allen's. When St. Louis circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce chose not to retry Allen, Green set him free.
Attorney General Chris Koster appealed Green's ruling, arguing that Allen's confession would have been enough to convince a jury despite the undisclosed evidence. But the Court of Appeals for the Western District disagreed.
Koster's office released the following statement on Wednesday:
"Throughout this case, we have tried to meet the challenge of honoring our duty to prosecute as well as our commitment to justice. We appealed the trial court’s finding as part of the safeguarding process for serious criminal convictions. As previously stated, we defer to the Western District Court of Appeals’ decision, and will not pursue further action."
The court also ordered Joyce to announce within 30 days whether she plans to re-try Allen. A spokeswoman says the prosecutor still has no intention to do so. "If, however," the statement continues, "new information or evidence becomes available pointing to Mr. Allen or any suspect, we will take appropriate action."
Listen to Julie Bierach's interview with Allen's mother, Lonzetta Taylor, here.
Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann
A Good Year