Serology testing rules out George Allen Jr. as the person who murdered and raped a woman 30 years ago, according to a petition submitted by attorneys from The Innocence Project and the Bryan Cave law firm.
“The more we investigate this case, the more exculpatory evidence we discover,” said Daniel Harvath, an attorney with Bryan Cave who has worked on the case.
Allen, of University City, has served nearly 30 years in prision after being convicted of the murder and rape of 31-year-old Mary Bell back in 1982.
“We’ve known for months now that Mr. Allen is innocent,” said Barry Scheck, co-director of The Innocence Project, according to a news release. “Hopefully the new evidence submitted today will persuade the Attorney General’s office to move quickly to release Mr. Allen.”
The group filed an in Cole County Circuit Court to overturn Allen’s conviction. He has served nearly three decades of his sentence at the Jefferson City Correctional Center.
Harvath said Allen’s attorneys hope the Missouri Attorney General’s Office representatives choose not to oppose their petition so that Allen can be set free as soon as possible.
“We hope this won’t go through the full adversarial process,” he said.
An emailed statement from the Attorney General's Press Secretary Nanci Gonder said the office is reviewing the matter.
If the Attorney General opposes the petition, it will have to submit its objections and the court will set a hearing date.
Innocent by blood?
Attorneys stated that a previously undisclosed serology report ruled out Allen and Bell’s known sexual partner, the petition states. The semen was found on the robe Bell was wearing when her body was found.
However, the serology analyst scratched out markings on a report indicating tests revealed the semen came from a donor with blood type B antigens. Allen’s blood type is O, which would have ruled him out as the attacker, the petition states.
The serology analyst said in a deposition that he probably crossed off the information and did not include it in his final report because the findings were weak. However, another serology expert testified that even weak findings show the presence of B antigens and should have been made available to Allen’s defense attorneys. They were not.
Allen’s attorneys also say Allen's confessions to the crime are highly questionable, and even police investigators questioned their authenticity. Allen has been diagnosed as schizophrenic.
“There is no evidence whatsoever connecting George Allen to the crime scene other than his confession,” Harvath told Patch. “Take away the confession and nothing links him to this crime.”
The petition reads that one officer involved in the questioning, Detective Ron Skaggs questioned whether Allen’s confession was valid.
In describing whether police believed that Allen gave a false confession, Skaggs said, “We were iffy about it.”
He said that the way Allen was interrogated “was not the way (he was) trained to do interrogations.” He said Allen was asked highly leading questions and coached into the confession.
Allen also provided an inaccurate diagram of the murder scene immediately after his confession.
“False confessions contribute to more than 25 percent of the cases later overturned by DNA evidence, but people with mental disabilities like Mr. Allen are particularly vulnerable to falsely confessing,” said Olga Akselrod, Innocence Project staff attorney, according to a news release.
The original petition also questioned testimony corroborating Allen’s confession. During his confession, Allen said someone called out Bell’s name while he was in the apartment. A neighbor who knocked on Bell’s door originally could not recall if she called out Bell’s name.
However, the witness underwent hypnosis to recall whether she called out for Bell. She later testified in court that she did call out Bell’s name while at the door, but the jury was not informed the witness was hypnotized to make that recollection.
Later, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that hypnosis-induced testimony is highly unreliable and inadmissible in court.
Allen’s family members and his sister’s boyfriend testified that he was at home in University City all day on the day Bell was murdered, about 10 miles from Bell’s apartment. There was a lot of snow that day, and family members testified he helped dig a car out of the snow.
They said the two feet of snow and single-digit temperatures made it impossible for Allen to make it 10 miles to Bell’s apartment.