JEFFERSON CITY -- A Missouri judge has thrown out the 1983 rape and murder convictions of a St. Louis-area man who case was taken up by nonprofit group that specializes in using DNA evidence to overturn wrongful convictions.
Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green on Friday ordered 56-year-old George Allen Jr. released from prison within 10 days unless the St. Louis circuit attorney decides to retry him. That office was closed Friday night, but Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce worked with the Innocence Project on the DNA testing.
The judge's written findings of fact in the case were not available Friday night.
Allen, a diagnosed schizophrenic who is 29 years into a 95-year sentence, was accused of raping and killing 31-year-old Mary Bell after breaking into her St. Louis home. The crime occurred about 10 miles from Allen's University City home during a historic snowstorm on Feb. 4, 1982.
Lawyers with The Innocence Project took up Allen's case in 2010, arguing that police coached Allen into confessing. They said Allen was cleared by the results of DNA tests not available in the early 1980s and other forensic evidence not shared with Allen's trial lawyers.
Allen was arrested about a month after Bell's murder, when officers mistook him for a convicted sex offender who police had suspected and took him in for questioning. Police said he confessed, and lab tests done then could not exclude Allen as the source of semen found on Bell's robe. Read More