Two men from Texas wrongfully convicted of stabbing a man to death declared innocent after 19 years
After nearly two decades of being wrongfully convicted, two men from Texas are finally seeing their day in the sun. Stanley Mozee and Dennis Lee Allen have been declared "actually innocent" as of May 11, 2019 after being wrongfully convicted of murder in 2000. Although there was no physical evidence that connected them to the murder, they were still convicted and sentenced to a life imprisonment.
The decision was based on evidence that Stanley Mozee and Dennis Lee Allen were factually innocent based on new DNA testing which excluded them from key evidence at the crime scene.
The court also found that their convictions were rooted in unreliable jailhouse informant testimony, a false confession and substantial prosecutorial misconduct.
The two men had been convicted of killing Rev. Jesse Borns, Jr., who was a store owner and lay minister. He had been found stabbed to death in April 1999. They spent 15 years in jail because of a misconduct on the part of the trail prosecutor.
Innocence Project, the Innocence Project of Texas, and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office re-opened the investigation and the Dallas County district court released them in 2014 after uncovering new evidence after they spent 15 years being incarcerated for a murder they didn't commit. The second investigation took four years to complete and the final evidence proved their innocence.
However, this wasn't new evidence. Much of it was in the files of the prosecutor in the case that had been kept away from the two men's defense team.
The two men's right to a fair judicial trail was also violated. According to the Innocence Project, in 2018, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the lead trial prosecutor, Rick Jackson, withheld numerous items of exculpatory evidence at the trials.
“Due to egregious misconduct by the trial prosecutor, these two innocent men spent 15 years of their lives in prison,” said Nina Morrison, senior attorney at the Innocence Project.
"Today, the Innocence Project is thrilled to have an official declaration of what these two men have always known: that they are innocent. We are extremely grateful to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office for its commitment to pursuing justice and the truth in this case," she said.
Gary Udashen, president of the Board of the Innocence Project of Texas, noted that these exonerations would not have been possible had the district attorney’s office not opened its trial files and investigated the defendants’ innocence.
“This case stands as a model for prosecutors and courts who are committed to promoting policies that will mitigate prosecutorial misconduct and offer a clearer path to freeing the innocent,” said Udashen.
“If there was ever a case that warranted my office to take appropriate action to try to right these wrongs, the wrongful conviction of Mozee and Allen is it,” said Dallas County Criminal District Attorney John Creuzot.
“Justice is slow sometimes, but today is a great day,” Creuzot added. Mozee was represented by Nina Morrison of the Innocence Project, affiliated with theBenjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, and Ezekiel Tyson, Jr., of Dallas. Allen was represented by Gary Udashen and Bruce Anton of the Innocence Project of Texas. Both organizations worked on this case for over a decade before today’s exoneration.