Reverend Jesse Borns, Jr., a Dallas store owner and lay minister, who was found stabbed to death in his place of business on April 6, 1999 and items had been stolen from the store.
A canvass of the area turned up no eyewitnesses to the crime. However, witnesses reported seeing two men arguing with Borns around 6pm on the day of the murder. Court records show that a jailhouse informant pointed the police toward Dennis Allen and Stanley Mozee, local men experiencing homelessness who performed odd jobs around the neighborhood. Prior to their arrests, Allen and Mozee were not known to each other.
Arrest & Trial
Dennis Allen and Stanley Mozee were arrested and charged with capital murder. The men were tried separately. There was no physical evidence linking either man to the crime scene. During the trials, the prosecution relied on a confession written by a detective and signed by Mr. Mozee, who suffered from untreated schizophrenia. The prosecutor, Rick Jackson, also had two jailhouse informants testify that Mr. Allen and Mr. Mozee had confessed to the crime. The informant stated on the stand that they had not received any consideration for their testimony. Both men were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in 2000.
In 2009, Innocence Project of Texas and The Innocence Project based in New York began cooperating with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity unit to reinvestigate the case. IPTX represented Dennis Allen and The Innocence Project represented Stanley Mozee. They sought DNA testing on more than two dozen items of evidence. All of the items tested excluded Allen and Mozee as contributors.
In addition, the prosecution opened up the trial file maintained by prosecutor Rick Jackson and discovered documentation of numerous Brady violations, including letters and police reports that were never disclosed to the defense lawyers for Allen and Mozee. The documents included reports showing that detective claimed in a sworn affidavit and in court that “all three” of the
correspondence from the jailhouse informants asking for leniency, asking when the prosecution would fulfill its promises of leniency, and detailing how both men got reduced sentences after their testimony. In 2014, both informants were interviewed and recanted their testimony implicating Mozee and Allen, and admitted they lied when they said they had not sought or received benefits from the prosecution.
In September 2014, IPTX and The Innocence Project filed a memorandum requesting a state law petition of habeas corpus to vacate their convictions. The petition outlined the failure of the prosecution to disclose “a staggering array of exculpatory evidence that had never before been disclosed.” It accused detective Berry of falsely testifying and manipulating and hiding evidence. It also accused prosecutor Jackson of knowingly allowing witnesses to testify falsely and arguing evidence that he knew was false.
On October 28, 2014, the prosecution agreed to the motion. The convictions were vacated and Mozee and Allen were freed on bond after having been incarcerated for 15 years.
The petition for a writ of habeas corpus was forwarded to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. In 2015 and in 2016, the court remanded the writ requesting further investigation and findings.
In March 2017, Dallas Criminal District Court adopted findings and conclusion jointly submitted by IPTX, The Innocence Project and the Conviction Integrity Unit. In January 2018, the Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the findings in full, granted the writs and ordered a new trial. On May 10, 2019, the District Attorney dismissed the charges. Mozee and Allen were granted certificates of innocence.
Gary Udashen, of IPTX 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.
In May 2021, former prosecutor Rick Jackson was disbarred for his misconduct in this case.
Systemic Failures Have Wrongly
Imprisoned Thousands of
The Generosity of Their Fellow Citizens Can Provide Them
The Freedom They Deserve.