A University City man who’s spent 30 years behind bars has been set free by a Cole County judge after his murder conviction was vacated.
George Allen was sentenced to life in prison for the 1982 rape and murder of court reporter Mary Bell. But DNA evidence made available nearly a decade ago indicates that semen found in the victim could not have come from Allen. Cole County Judge Daniel Green (R) tossed out Allen’s conviction earlier this month, and released him today after the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office decided not to retry him. Allen read a statement to reporters shortly after his release:
“For 30 years I had dreamed about the day that I would walk out of prison a free man. I have spent 30 years in prison as an innocent man, and those have been difficult years for me and my family, but I never gave up hope. I knew that someday the truth would come out, and now that day is here. I look forward to living with my family again and getting on with my life. I thank my mother and family for standing by me all these years, and I thank my attorneys at the Innocence Project and Bryan Cave for helping me. Thank God this nightmare is finally ending.”
Allen’s legal journey is not over yet. Attorney General Chris Koster (D) has appealed Judge Green’s decision to dismiss Allen’s conviction to the Western Appeals Court in Kansas City. The following response was provided by Deputy Attorney General Joe Dandurand:
“The trial judge is the first and only person to have found Mr. Allen to have been prejudiced during his trial. Numerous judges and courts have affirmed Mr. Allen’s convictions in the years following the jury’s verdict. The appellate process provides a system of checks and balances on our state’s trial court decisions. The criticisms of this office by those representing Mr. Allen are a bit perplexing. We are confident that, had the Court ruled against Mr. Allen, Mr. Allen’s attorney and the Innocence Project would have availed themselves of the same appeals process. 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.”
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport