The Innocence Project filed papers in a Missouri court this morning presenting
that a St. Louis man, George Allen, Jr., has served more than 29 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.
The legal petition, filed in collaboration with St. Louis law firm Bryan Cave LLP, cites new DNA evidence pointing to Allen’s innocence, as well as a report showing that forensic evidence of Allen’s innocence was withheld at trial. New evidence also shows that the testimony of a key witness against Allen was influenced by police and prosecutors.
Allen’s wrongful arrest and conviction began with a mistake. When police were investigating a 1982 St. Louis murder and rape, they picked up Allen thinking he was a specific suspect in the case – a convicted sex offender who lived near the victim. Although they eventually realized that they had the wrong person, they proceeded to interrogate Allen anyway. Allen, who is a diagnosed schizophrenic and had been admitted to psychiatric wards several times, eventually ended up making a recorded confession. On the recording, Allen informed the officers that he was under the influence of alcohol, and throughout the interrogation the officer prompts Allen to give him answers to fit the crime, often asking Allen to change his answer to do so.
“This appears to be an example of law enforcement ‘tunnel vision’ at its worst,” Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck said today. “Police arrested Mr. Allen thinking he is someone else, interrogated him anyway, knowing all the time that he was profoundly mentally ill and then withheld critical evidence that might have set him free.”
The state presented blood-type evidence at trial connecting Allen to a semen stain on the victim’s clothes. DNA tests now show that the stain connected to Allen at trial actually came from the victim’s boyfriend. Further documents and tests show that other forensic tests before trial suggested Allen’s innocence but were never handed over to the defense.
Download of the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
filed today in the Circuit Court of Cole County.