Dennis Lee Allen, 52, and Stanley Orson Mozee, 55, are serving life sentences for the murder of Reverend Jesse Borns Jr.  If courts agree with the evidence laid out by the Innocence Project in motions filed recently, they could soon join the other Dallas exonerees.  Allen and Mozee were convicted in 2000.  Attorneys with the Innocence Project of Texas and the Innocence Project are asking courts to set aside their convictions based upon newly discovered DNA evidence and because the trial was tainted by false evidence knowingly presented by prosecutors.

“There’s a very good reason to believe that they’re innocent,” said Gary Udashen, the Dallas attorney representing Allen, “but there’s just [no] question they didn’t receive a fair trial.”

Russell Wilson of the Dallas County District Attorney’s office said his office was engaged “in a thorough review…”  He elaborated that the office has not “reached a final conclusion” and they have not spoken with the prosecutor on the case, Rick Jackson.  Jackson is currently retired, but denied all wrongdoing.

Borns Jr. was stabbed to death in April of 1999 outside a store where he sold leather goods, pagers, and clocks and where he conducted money management seminars.  When he did not return home, his wife and a neighbor went to the store to look for him. They found his body lying in a hallway.  He had been stabbed 47 times and punched repeatedly.

No physical evidence ever tied Allen or Mozee and no witnesses ever placed them at the crime.

“There was none then, and there’s none now,” said Nina Morrison, who represents Mozee.

The two men were convicted based upon the testimony of jailhouse informants and an unrecorded alleged confession made by Mozee, who has a history of drug abuse and mental illness.

DNA testing was not a factor at trial, new techniques “revealed the presence of DNA…not [of] either defendant and not the homicide victim,” the filing stated.

The DNA evidence was found in a blood stain on the floor, on the handle of a blood-stained hammer next to the body, and in a hair found under Borns’ fingernails. Though Udashen said the DNA evidence is compelling, he said attorneys were shocked by additional evidence they found in the prosecutor’s original case file. Under an “open file” policy adopted by District Attorney Craig Watkins in 2008, attorneys filing a writ can view the file while preparing their case.  In the file, defense attorneys discovered letters from inmates who testified that they heard the two brothers confessing.  During their court testimony, the jailhouse informants told the jury they were not incentivized and expected no personal benefits.

However, the letters spoke of benefits, including the possibility of a reduced sentence and that they “believed they had been promised [such] from the State…”

“The prosecution not only failed to turn over this material,” the brief said, but concealed it while insisting to jurors “that no such discussions with these informants had ever occurred.”

The jailhouse informants have since stated their testimony was fabricated.

Jackson dismissed the DNA evidence saying that he expected third party DNA because of the public area the crime took place in and denied ever making any deals “up front”.

Udashen said he has a “high degree of confidence that the convictions are going to be set aside.”

“Whether or not it ultimately results in an actual innocence finding,” he said, “I think a lot of that is going to depend upon what the DA’s office determines in their own independent investigation.”

Udashen went on to say that he doubts the two men would be convicted today because the case depended so heavily on just the testimony of jailhouse informants.

In 2000, “that’s back before people everywhere and particularly in Dallas County were skeptical of things in the criminal justice system. Today I don’t think hardly any jurors in Dallas County would put any weight on that. I think the day of the jailhouse snitch has passed.”

The Innocence Project took Mozee’s case in 2001 shortly after his conviction and then took on Allen’s case.  The Innocence Project gets at least 10,000 requests for legal representation at any given time.

Advertisements

Join the Discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s