Associated Press


TEXAS PROSECUTOR WITHHELD EVIDENCE TO GET CONVICTIONS:
Two men set free after 15 years in prison
November 02, 2014


(DALLAS, TEXAS) -- Dennis Lee Allen and Stanley Orson Mozee walked out of a Dallas County courtroom on October 28, 2014 after a judge ruled that their murder convictions from 2000 should be overturned based on previously withheld evidence.

The Innocence Project, based in Chicago and the Innocence Project of Texas had petitioned for the pair’s release based on evidence that suggests "serious prosecutorial misconduct" as well as favorable results of recent DNA testing on bloodstains and other key evidence from the crime scene, according to a statement from the Innocence Project of Chicago.

"District Attorney Craig Watkins and his Conviction Integrity Unit agreed that the (then) prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence and joined the lawyers for Allen and Mozee in seeking Tuesday’s ruling that the pair did not receive a fair trial on that basis," said the Innocence Project statement.

Stanley Mozee (left) and Dennis Allen (right) are greeted by family, supporters and the media after being released in Dallas Tuesday. Photo by Lara Solt. Courtesy Lara Solt and Innocence Project.

HOW THE MEN WERE CONVICTED

Allen and Mozee were convicted of the 1999 murder of Reverend Jesse Borns Jr., despite a lack of physical evidence or any eyewitnesses connecting them to the crime.

The prosecution relied on testimony from "jailhouse informants" and an unrecorded confession from Mozee, who has a history of mental illness and immediately recanted, saying he was coerced into signing a statement.

Borns was stabbed to death outside a store where he worked. In addition to a lack of evidence linking Allen and Mozee to the murder, there were no witnesses who placed them at the scene of the crime.

Ultimately, the two men were convicted based largely on the testimony from those jailhouse informants and the unrecorded confession from Mozee.

The Innocence Project said post-conviction DNA testing found no trace of DNA from the two men on multiple items recovered from the scene, however DNA from one or more persons that doesn’t match to the victim, Allen or Mozee was discovered on several items.

Further, letters were discovered in the former Assistant District Attorney’s case file from jailhouse informants indicating that they had been promised reduced sentences in exchange for their testimony.

"These informants, who claimed to have heard Allen and Mozee admitting to the murder, swore to the jury that they didn’t receive, or even seek, favorable treatment for their testimony. These letters were never disclosed during the 2000 trials despite orders from the judge to turn over prior statements made by all witnesses and all evidence favorable to the defense. The two inmates both received lenient sentences for the crimes they were facing and have since told defense attorneys their initial testimony was false," said the Innocence Project statement on the case.

In Tuesday's proceeding Dallas County District Judge Mark Stoltz issued findings of fact and conclusions of law, and recommended that the convictions be overturned. These findings will now go before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for review.

KTVT-TV, the Dallas-Ft. Worth CBS station spoke to Mozee and Allen after the hearing. The two men told the station:

“I have no animosity toward anyone,” stated Mozee. “As a matter of fact, I give the Dallas County judicial system a positive note, if the court of criminal appeals will act and do the just thing in this matter.”

“It feels wonderful,” said Allen. “I mean, it’s kind of hard to explain, but try to imagine the greatest joy you have ever experienced in your life, and that’s what I’m feeling right now."

Allen and Mozee were surrounded in court by family members and other Dallas area exonerees when they were released this week.


Exonerations
Truth in Justice