Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Appeals Court Rejects Challenge to St. Louis Man's Prison Release

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Appeals Court Rejects Challenge to St. Louis Man's Prison Release

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS A state appeals court refused on Wednesday to overturn a judge's order that released a St. Louis man who had been imprisoned for nearly 30 years on a murder charge.

"We're thrilled, we're absolutely thrilled," said Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project and one of the lawyers representing George Allen.

Allen, 56, was released last month after Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green voided Allen's convictions for murder, rape, sodomy and first-degree burglary in the killing of Mary Bell, 31.

Green faulted city police for failing to turn over evidence to prosecutors and a "deeply flawed" interrogation that led to a "dubious" confession.

"The undisclosed evidence, considered together, points unavoidably to the conclusion that the police and Detective (Herb) Riley in particular ignored and hid evidence pointing to someone else as the perpetrator in their zealous pursuit of Allen's conviction," Green wrote.

St. Louis prosecutors announced Nov. 7 that they would not retry Allen, saying that among other things, two key witnesses who might have explained the issues with Allen's confession and the police interrogation have since died.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's office decided to appeal, however.

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western Division, rejected that appeal.

Koster's office had conceded that evidence had not been turned over, but argued that the trial turned on Allen's confession, not other evidence.

The decision could end the case against Allen.

"As previously stated, we defer to the Western District Court of Appeals' decision, and will not pursue further action," said Koster spokeswoman Nanci Gonder.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce will again have to make a decision about retrying Allen.

As the court pointed out in a footnote to the 51-page opinion, "The effect of a similar announcement if made in response to this Opinion will be to permanently discharge Allen, and not merely to permit Allen's conditional release from incarceration. …

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