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Man Freed After 30 Years in Jail

***UPDATE WEDNESDAY 4:30 P.M.***The Attorney General’s office filed an appeal today with Missouri’s Western District Court. While that appeal is pending, George Allen, Jr. is prohibited from leaving the state or breaking any laws.Despite the appeal, Allen’s lawyer says there is a lot of evidence that shows that Allen is not the person who killed Mary Bell in 1982.”Given the extremely powerful evidence of Mr. Allen’s innocence, the powerful evidence of police misconduct in this case, this appeal is absolutely meritless,” said attorney Olga Akselrod.As Allen walked out of the courtroom a free man, he said he is thankful the nightmare is over.”I knew someday the truth would come out and now that day is here,” said Allen. “I look forward to living with my family again and getting on with my life.”***UPDATE WEDNESDAY 11:30 A.M.***JEFFERSON CITY (AP) – A 56-year-old man imprisoned for nearly three decades for a 1982 rape and murder walked free after a judge ruled that St. Louis police hid or destroyed evidence that cast doubt on his guilt.George Allen Jr. served 29 years of a 95-year sentence in the February 1982 death of 31-year-old Mary Bell. She was attacked and killed in her St. Louis apartment during a blinding snowstorm.A Cole County judge overturned Allen’s conviction Nov. 2. Circuit Judge Dan Green told Allen Wednesday he could return home while the state appeals that ruling.The case took a turn two years ago after lawyers found previously undisclosed documents showing police did not tell prosecutors or defense attorneys they evidence that Bell’s attacker had a blood type inconsistent with Allen’s.Deputy Attorney General Joe Dandurand released the following statement in regards to Allen’s release:”The trial judge is the first and only person to have found Mr. Allen to have been prejudiced during his trial. Numerous judges and courts have affirmed Mr. Allen’s convictions in the years following the jury’s verdict.The appellate process provides a system of checks and balances on our state’s trial court decisions. The criticisms of this office by those representing Mr. Allen are a bit perplexing. We are confident that, had the Court ruled against Mr. Allen, Mr. Allen’s attorney and the Innocence Project would have availed themselves of the same appeals process. We believe the facts and circumstances of the case and the trial court’s findings should be examined by the appellate court as part of the normal safeguarding process. We will defer to the Western District Court of Appeals’ decision in this matter, and if the court determines the judge’s ruling is correct, we will not pursue further action.”***UPDATE WEDNESDAY 9:20 A.M.***George Allen Jr. was released from the Jefferson City Correctional Center after spending nearly 30 years behind bars. A Cole County judge threw out his murder and rape convictions for a 1983 crime after ruling police had withheld evidence that raised questions about Allen’s guilt.***ORIGINAL STORY***JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A 56-year-old, partially blind schizophrenic man who has been imprisoned for two decades could be freed in a hearing Wednesday, after a Missouri judge recently overturned his rape and murder convictions, lawyers said.George Allen Jr. was sentenced to 95 years behind bars in the February 1982 death of 31-year-old Mary Bell, who was attacked and killed in her home during a blinding St. Louis snowstorm. A Cole County judge overturned that conviction Nov. 2 and ordered Allen’s release, ruling police had withheld evidence that raised questions about Allen’s guilt.Alana Massie, a spokeswoman for the New York-based Innocence Project that has been representing Allen, said they expect him to be freed Wednesday pending the state’s appeal.Allen was arrested about a month after Bell’s murder when police mistook him for a convicted sex offender and took him in for questioning. Police said he confessed, and they conducted lab tests they said could not exclude him as the source of the physical evidence found on the victim.Police and lab documents that were not disclosed at trial show police found semen samples from two different men on the victim’s robe, and more advanced DNA technology enabled Allen’s lawyers to press his case. Those tests ruled out Allen as the source of semen found on Bell’s robe, his lawyers said. The state disputed the test results and has filed an appeal.Among those expected at Wednesday’s hearing in Jefferson City is Allen’s 80-year-old mother, Lonzetta Taylor, with whom he lived in University City, about 10 miles from Bell’s home. Allen’s supporters said it would have been impossible for him to walk 10 miles in the snow to a stranger’s home, then rape and kill her. Taylor said her son was at home when Bell was killed. Allen’s original trial ended in a hung jury. He was convicted in a second trial in 1983.

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