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AG opposes retrial in 1982 St. Louis killing

AG opposes retrial in 1982 St. Louis killing

April 1st, 2012 in News

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster signaled in a court filing that he opposes a new trial for an inmate convicted of killing a St. Louis woman 30 years ago.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ( reported that Koster said in Friday's court filing that new evidence isn't enough to prove the innocence of George Allen Jr. He was sentenced to 95 years in prison in the 1982 death of 31-year-old Mary Bell.

Allen, who is schizophrenic, was arrested about a month after Bell was killed because he resembled a convicted sex offender police had suspected, and they questioned him anyway. Police said Allen 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 that police found semen samples from two different men on the robe, and more sophisticated DNA tests completed last year ruled out Allen as a source.

Allen's attorneys also noted that fingerprints in Bell's apartment did not match Allen or her boyfriend. The lawyers said they were told for years that the fingerprints did not exist, and obtained them only under subpoena.

Koster's response argues that the presence of another person's fingerprints and semen does not exclude Allen. He did not address questions about the confession but did suggest it helps balance against other evidence so "a reasonable juror could still vote to convict."

However, Allen's attorneys have argued the confession was coerced. They said former St. Louis police officer Ronald Scaggs, one of the original detectives, recently said investigators had been "iffy" about Allen's guilt, had asked him leading questions and ignored "red flags" about his reliability.

On Friday, the Innocence Project criticized Koster for not addressing what it said were constitutional violations regarding disclosure of evidence. Allen's attorneys said they will file a response in coming weeks and then push for a hearing.