St Louis Post Dispatch

Lawyers add to evidence supporting innocence of convicted killer George Allen Jr.

BY ROBERT PATRICK • > 314-621-5154 | Posted: Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lawyers for George Allen Jr. claim he is innocent in the 1982 rape and murder of court reporter Mary Bell in her St. Louis home.

Uncertainty by St. Louis police who built a murder-rape case against George Allen Jr. adds to "overwhelming evidence" that he has been wrongly imprisoned for almost 30 years, his lawyers say in a fresh court filing Friday.

The document joins material filed Sept. 26 in Cole County Circuit Court on behalf of Allen, 55, seeking to have his conviction in St. Louis overturned.

In the latest filing, his advocates cite an investigation by the Missouri attorney general's office that they say revealed problems with lab analysis and other evidence.

Neither physical evidence nor eyewitness testimony linked Allen to the stabbing of Mary Bell, 31, in her apartment in the 1000 block of Marion Street in the LaSalle Park neighborhood on Feb. 4, 1982.

In a statement Friday, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce's office said it "has confidence that the Attorney General's Office will objectively review this document and take appropriate action on behalf of the State of Missouri on this matter."

The Attorney General's Office declined to comment.

Police picked up Allen in the neighborhood more than a month after the crime because he resembled a suspect, and questioned him even after determining he wasn't the man they sought. Allen confessed but later said the confession was coached.

Jurors at Allen's first trial voted 10-2 for acquittal. He was found guilty by a different jury three months later and might have been sentenced to death had a juror not needed to leave during the trial's penalty phase.

Allen has already exhausted his appeals.

But his lawyers argue that as more evidence surfaces, the case for his innocence becomes even more convincing. Included is lab material indicating that semen found on a robe the victim wore when she was attacked did not match Allen or any of her known sex partners.

The attorneys say lab evidence proving that Allen could not have been the source of semen found at the scene should have been provided to his original lawyers.

A recent interview with former St. Louis police Detective Ronald Scaggs casts Allen's interrogation into doubt, they say, raising a series of questions about the interview techniques and the reliability of the purported confession.

Scaggs is quoted as saying that police were "iffy" about Allen's conviction. He said Allen was asked leading questions and shown crime scene photos that could have affected detectives' ability to test Allen's knowledge of the crime.

Scaggs, they say, also said that Allen drew a diagram of the crime scene that was inaccurate — and that was never turned over to defense lawyers.

"Hopefully the new evidence submitted today will persuade the Attorney General's Office to move quickly to release Mr. Allen," said Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, in a prepared statement.

Daniel Harvath, a lawyer with the Bryan Cave firm in St. Louis, who is working for Allen's release, wrote in a statement, "This case was built on a faulty foundation that has completely crumbled."

Innocent Imprisoned
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