Posted: Nov 14, 2012 7:23 PM by Melissa Berman
Updated: Nov 14, 2012 10:34 PM
JEFFERSON CITY - A Cole County judge released George Allen Junior Wednesday morning after serving more than 30 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
"He is out and I'm able to get that closeness with him. I'm bubbling on the inside, so it's feeling really good to see my brother that has been incarcerated for 30 years," said Allen's sister Ealfrieda Allen.
In 1982, then 26-year-old Allen, a diagnosed schizophrenic, was convicted of raping and murdering 31-year-old Mary Bell. Police originally mistook Allen for another suspect, then talked him into confessing to the crime. Three witnesses testified that Allen was at his mother's home in University City, 10 miles from Bell's apartment when she was raped and murdered in her St. Louis home during a historic February blizzard.
"When he first got convicted it was frustrating, but I got over it. I just had to be happy for him every time I went to see him. I didn't want to be sad or crying," said Allen's Mother Lonzetta Taylor.
His family contacted The Innocence Project, a nation-wide organization that works to overturn wrongful convictions. Through research Allen's attorneys found that detective Herb Riley and criminologist Joseph Crow hid DNA evidence proving Allen's innocence. There were both semen and fingerprints from the crime that did not match Allen's. Allen faced the death penalty, but because a juror was excused due to a family emergency he was sentenced to 95 years in prison.
On November 2nd, Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green overturned Allen's conviction. After the St. Louis Circuit Attorney chose not to retry Allen, Attorney General Chris Koster appealed Green's ruling. This means Allen's case will go before the Western District Appellate Court in Kansas City and potentially the Missouri Supreme Court. If Judge Green's ruling is overturned, Allen could go back behind bars.
"I wish we could say that Mr. Allen's case is the only case of an innocent person wrongfully convicted, but it's not. We know that there are many innocent people in prison and they spend a lot of time incarcerated for crimes that they didn't commit," said Innocence Project and Allen's Attorney Olga Akselrod.
Akselrod said she is asking the St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce to review every case that Riley and Crow worked on together for other cases of misconduct.