Innocence Project Northwest client Donovan Allen was released this week after DNA testing revealed another man was responsible for the murder for which he served 15 years.

Allen was convicted in 2002 in the death of his mother, Sharon Cox.  She was found strangled and bludgeoned to death in her home in 2000.  Allen falsely confessed after 14 hours of overnight interrogation.  He recanted, but in the end it did no good.

His first trial ended in a hung jury.  At his second trial, Allen was convicted of aggravated first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charges against Allen and have arrested Brian Del Kitts, the victim’s nephew.  His DNA was found on Cox’s clothing after new testing.  Despite this, police are sticking to their original findings.  They told the press that Kitts is now considered to be an “additional” perpetrator and that Allen is not exonerated.

Innocence Project Northwest Policy Director Lara Zarowsky said last week that prosecutors never suggested the crime was committed by more than one person and the evidence against Kitts matches this theory and fully exonerates Allen.

“Any additional time he has to spend in prison for the murder of his mother is a tragedy.  To us, this is a clear case,” she said.

Attorneys for the Innocence Project Northwest requested the testing this past May on Cox’s clothing, nail scrapings, and other evidence in the case.  DNA found on the collar of Cox’s sweater and on her shirt matched Kitts, who was a person of interest during the investigation.  Allen was not officially exonerated so, charges could still be brought against him in the future if prosecutors so choose.

“It feels surreal.  I can finally begin the life I was robbed of.  I’m so glad to have a second chance to be a father, a son, an uncle,” Allen said.

Sources:  Innocence Project 1  |  2

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