Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dallas prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence in 1999 murder trials

Two more Dallas men have been released based on habeas corpus writs after prosecutors withheld critical, exculpatory evidence at their trials about deals offered to jailhouse informants, reported the Courthouse News (Oct. 28). The article opened:
Two Texas men were freed Tuesday when their life sentences were overturned due to prosecutorial misconduct during their murder trials.

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins agreed Tuesday morning to overturn the convictions of Stanley O. Mozee, 55, and Dennis Lee Allen, 52. The men were convicted of the robbery and stabbing death of the Rev. Jesse Borns Jr., who was killed in April 1999.

Dallas County Judge Mark Stoltz released Mozee and Allen on $25,000 bond during a hearing packed with their friends, family and other exonerees.

Both men await appellate rulings on their case and new trials.

Allen told the media outside the courtroom that he feels like he is "in heaven."

"Try to imagine the best joy you ever experienced in your life," he said. "That's what I'm feeling right now."

Mozee said that despite his ordeal he is not mad at anyone.

"I give the Dallas County judicial system a positive note," he said. "The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals [must now] act and do the just thing in this matter."

District attorney spokeswoman Debbie Denmon said Watkins' office was approached by the Innocence Project in late 2008 and allowed its workers to review of the case files, in accordance with Watkins' open file policy.

"It was only after this open file review that the Conviction Integrity Unit and the Innocence Project discovered letters written by jailhouse informants who were ultimately called as witnesses by the state," Denmon said in a statement.

"In these letters, the witnesses demanded certain benefits from a former Dallas County prosecutor in exchange for testifying, and/or sought to have the prosecutor deliver on promises that the witnesses believed had been made in exchange for their testimony."

The letters and "substantive discussions" were not disclosed at either Mozee's or Allen's trials.
See related coverage from the Dallas Morning News.

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