Missouri congressmen asking Attorney General to review inmate's case

Monday, November 21, 2011 | 7:01 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — Two Missouri congressmen have asked the state's attorney general to review the case of an inmate convicted of killing a St. Louis woman nearly 30 years ago.

Reps. William Lacy Clay and Emanuel Cleaver II, both Democrats, said in a letter to Attorney General Chris Koster that they want Koster to review the new evidence in the case of George Allen Jr., who was sentenced to 95 years in prison in the 1982 death of Mary Bell, 31.

Allen, now 55, was arrested about a month after Bell was killed. Police said he confessed, and lab tests done then could not exclude Allen as the source of semen found on Bell's robe.

But lawyers for the Innocence Project, a national nonprofit that specializes in using DNA evidence to overturn wrongful convictions, have said police and lab documents that weren't disclosed at trial showed police found semen samples from two different men on the robe, and more sophisticated DNA tests completed last year ruled out Allen as the source of either.

In September, lawyers with the Innocence Project also cited the DNA evidence in asking a Cole County judge to free Allen.

In their letter to Koster, dated Nov. 18, Clay and Cleaver echoed the concerns of the Innocence Project.

"We have reviewed documents from the case and spoken with his attorneys, and we share a deep concern that Mr. Allen has suffered a grave injustice that must be remedied swiftly," the letter from Clay and Cleaver said.

Clay said in a statement they are seeking Allen's release and that as attorney general, Koster can make that decision.

Nanci Gonder, Koster's spokeswoman, said the attorney general's office is reviewing Allen's case and the letter from the congressmen. She said it was unclear when Koster would have a decision on the matter.

Dean Hoag, who prosecuted Allen's case for the St. Louis circuit attorney's office, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.

Jennifer Joyce, the current circuit attorney, worked with the Innocence Project on the DNA testing. A spokesman in her office said Monday that Joyce believes the DNA and other new evidence neither confirms Allen's involvement in Bell's murder, nor exonerates him.

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