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Innocence Project Provides More Evidence of Innocence in Effort to Overturn Murder Conviction of George Allen

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Even Police Department Was “Iffy” About Conviction
 
Contacts: Paul Cates, 212-364-5346, pcates@innocenceproject.org
               Ameer Gado, 314-359-2745, ameer.gado@bryancave.com
               Daniel Harvath, 314-259-2205, daniel.harvath@bryancave.com
 
(ST. LOUIS, MO. – February 17, 2012) The Innocence Project in collaboration with the St. Louis law firm, Bryan Cave LLP, submitted an amended petition before a Missouri court today outlining additional evidence pointing to the innocence of George Allen who has already served nearly 30 years for a 1982 murder and rape. The amended petition outlines new evidence that casts even further doubt about the reliability of the alleged confession in the case and provides new details about exculpatory serology evidence that was never turned over to the defendant.
 
“We’ve known for months now that Mr. Allen is innocent. Hopefully the new evidence submitted today will persuade the Attorney General’s office to move quickly to release Mr. Allen, who has already served nearly 30 years,” said Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law.
 
The Innocence Project filed the original habeas petition asking a judge to vacate Allen’s conviction on September 26, 2011. In that petition, attorneys established, through DNA and previously undisclosed serology testing, the presence of semen on the robe that the victim was wearing when she was attacked that didn’t match the defendant or the victim’s known sexual partners. According to scratched out markings on a report from the analyst who performed the serology, the semen came from a donor with B antigens.
 
Since that filing, attorneys deposed the analyst, Joseph Crow, about the scratched out marking. He claimed to have no independent recollection of the testing, but after reviewing the documents, he said that he believes he obtained what he referred to as a “weak” reaction for B antigens on the robe, wrote the B antigen finding on this worksheet, but later decided to delete the finding before the final lab report was typed up. An affidavit filed today from a nationally recognized serology expert confirms that Crow was obligated to report the results and turn them over to the defense even if they were, as he claimed, “weak” results because the test Crow was using does not allow for false positives and even a weak result means the B antigen is present. George Allen’s blood type excluded him as the source of the B antigen. Moreover, Crow has now admitted that he cannot rule out the fact that he may have known George Allen was excluded by the B antigen before he decided to cross out the finding.
 
In papers filed today, attorneys also point to new evidence that the police investigating the crime were concerned about the reliability of Allen’s confession. Although police were looking for another person when they arrested Allen, they decided to interrogate him 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 itself, Allen informs the officers that he is 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 case was built on a faulty foundation that has completely crumbled,” said Daniel Harvath, Associate at Bryan Cave LLP. “The police arrested Mr. Allen thinking he was someone else and elicited a confession out of him anyway – a confession that we now know they questioned. The lab analyst withheld critical evidence that could have proven Mr. Allen’s innocence and instead testified that the evidence supported Mr. Allen’s confession.” Ameer Gado, Counsel with Brian Cave, added, “With this new information, we’re hopeful that Mr. Allen will be released soon.”
 
Attorneys recently deposed Detective Ron Scaggs, who was one of the detectives involved in the interrogation. When asked whether he recalled questions being raised within the department about whether or not this was a good conviction, he admitted that “we were iffy about it.” He also confirmed that there were problems with the way the interrogation was conducted and agreed that it “was not the way that [he was] trained to do interrogations.” He agreed that Detective Herb Riley, the head investigator on the case, asked “leading questions” and that this “runs the risk that you would be inadvertently suggesting to a suspect how to answer a question.” He also agreed that it was problematic to have shown Allen photos during the interrogation because “you may be inadvertently feeding information that you, the investigator, would prefer to get from the suspect himself to make sure that you’re getting reliable information that only the police and prosecutor would know.” He acknowledged that several of Allen’s incorrect facts about the crime were “red flags” that Allen’s confession may not be reliable. Additionally, he noted that Allen was asked to draw a diagram of the crime scene that was inaccurate and never turned over to defense as required by law.
 
“False confessions contribute to more than 25% of the cases later overturned by DNA evidence, but people with mental disabilities like Mr. Allen are particularly vulnerable to falsely confessing,” said Olga Akselrod, Innocence Project staff attorney. “Mr. Allen’s mother has been waiting for justice for a very long time. Hopefully the evidence uncovered in today’s filing will finally end this terrible injustice.”
 
Allen is represented by Scheck and Akselrod of the Innocence Project and Harvath, Gado and Associate Tim O’Connell with Bryan Cave. A copy of the Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus that was filed today in the Circuit Court of Cole County is available at:
http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/Legal_Documents_from_Allen_v_Dormire.php

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The Innocence Project is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustices. For more information on the Innocence Project, visit www.innocenceproject.org.