The city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri will pay nearly $14 million to the family of a man wrongfully convicted of the 1982 rape and murder of a St. Louis court reporter.
George Allen died in 2016. His sister Elfrieda and his mother, Lonzetta Taylor, agreed to a settlement in the the federal civil rights lawsuit in December, although the case was not officially dismissed until last week. The first payment of $5 million was due in January.
Neither the city nor the state admit to any of the allegations in the lawsuit, which included claims that detectives beat a confession out of Allen, and withheld evidence that would have shown he was innocent. But earlier state court rulings that granted Allen his freedom ruled police covered up the fact that blood found at the scene ruled out Allen as the murderer.
Allen was 26 in 1982 when he was arrested in connection with the death of Mary Bell, who was stabbed in her south St. Louis apartment. According to the lawsuit filed in 2012, officers confused Allen for a suspect in the case, Kirk Eaton, and arrested Allen even after he produced identification. St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers then interrogated Allen despite his mental illness until Allen confessed to the crime.
Allen was found guilty of rape, murder and burglary in July 1983 and sentenced to life in prison.
In 2011, the New York-based Innocence Project filed documents seeking to have Allen’s conviction thrown out based on new DNA evidence. A Cole County judge did so in November 2012, and set Allen free when then-circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce decided not to retry the case. By then, Allen had served 30 years in prison. The state appeals court upheld the judge’s ruling that December.
The state case was filed in Cole County because Allen was in prison in Jefferson City.
Attorneys for Allen’s family would not comment on the settlement. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Josh Hawley did not immediately return a request for comment.
Correction: The first payment to George Allen's family was due in January, 45 days after the settlement was reached. The amount of that payment was $5 million. A previous version of the story incorrectly stated the amount and due date of the first payment.
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