In the early 1980s, University City resident George Allen was charged with and convicted of raping and murdering court reporter Mary Bell.
Last year, after serving 30 years in prison, Allen was released from prison as new evidence came to light which could have helped Allen’s defense and which a judge ruled made his trial unfair.
A Missouri appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling vacating the conviction and St. Louis circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce chose not to re-try the case.
“Many people believe he’s guilty, many people believe he’s not guilty. I really don’t know whether he’s guilty or not. He was not exonerated of the crime but what the court found in his habeas proceeding was that he did not receive a fair trial, and I agree with that,” Joyce said.
Jennifer Joyce joined William Freivogel, Director of the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, and Mark Smith, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of The Career Center at Washington University in St. Louis, for our monthly legal roundtable.
Joyce said, “I consider the George Allen case to be a colossal failure of the justice system. Both the victim and George Allen were failed in that case. There were documents that the police department had that they never gave to the prosecutor in that case and so the prosecution, in turn, could not give them to the defense council.”
Further, Joyce said members of the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners and Chief Sam Dotson are eager to participate in discussions that would bring about a “comprehensive system for getting all of these into one spot and getting all of those turned over to the prosecutor.” She said it’s necessary to make clear recommendations and hold people accountable for following them.
Also discussed on the program were a proposal to set up separate courts for gun violence in St. Louis and treating marijuana possession crimes differently.
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