Today, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the murder convictions of Dennis Lee Allen and Stanley Mozee based on evidence that their constitutional rights were violated as a result of repeated misconduct on the part of the former prosecutor who handled both trials.
Mozee and Allen were wrongfully convicted in 2000 of murdering Jesse Borns, Jr., a local store owner and lay minister and, consequently, sentenced to life in prison. They were freed from prison in a Dallas County district courtroom more than three years ago based on new evidence uncovered as the result of a joint re-investigation of the case by the Innocence Project, the Innocence Project of Texas and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. A wealth of exculpatory evidence was found in the files created by the former trial prosecutor, Rick Jackson, who is no longer with that office.
The joint reinvestigation of the case continued for the next three years. In March 2017, District Judge Everett Young issued comprehensive findings of fact and conclusions of law, in which the court concluded that former ADA Jackson had withheld numerous items of exculpatory evidence relating to informants and eyewitnesses from both defendants and had also presented false testimony from these witnesses at both Mozee’s and Allen’s trials. The findings were entered with the support and agreement of Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson and her Conviction Integrity Unit.
Since the court’s ruling, the two men have been awaiting a final decision from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which under Texas law holds final say over such claims. Today the Court of Criminal Appeals found that the district court’s findings were well supported by the record and vacated both murder convictions on due process grounds.
In the years since Allen and Mozee were wrongfully convicted, the Innocence Project and the Innocence Project of Texas helped get legislation passed in Texas to prevent the types of injustices that both men have suffered. Several years ago, the Texas Legislature enacted the Michael Morton Act to prevent prosecutors from suppressing evidence. And this past June, the state adopted the most comprehensive statute in the nation to regulate the use of jailhouse informants.
Mozee is represented by Nina Morrison of the Innocence Project and Ezekiel Tyson, Jr., of Dallas.
Allen is represented by Gary Udashen and Bruce Anton of the Innocence Project of Texas.