Two men exonerated May 10, 2019 in Texas

Saturday, May 11 2019

At 9:00 a.m., May 10, 2019, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot and the Conviction Integrity Unit moved to dismiss the cases of Dennis Allen and Stanley Mozee on the basis of actual innocence to State District Court Judge Raquel Jones in the 203rd Judicial District Court. By granting the motion, Judge Jones declared Dennis Allen and Stanley Mozee “actually innocent”.
 
Allen and Mozee were convicted of capital murder in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison. These murder convictions were formally reversed in January 2018 by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The two men were wrongfully convicted of murdering lay minister Reverend Jesse Borns, Jr., a local store owner. Borns was stabbed to death in his place of business in April 1999. There was no physical evidence linking Mozee or Allen to the crime scene.
 
Dennis Allen is represented by Gary Udashen and Bruce Anton on behalf of the Innocence Project of Texas. Stanley Mozee is represented by the Innocence Project (based in New York). The two men who were wrongfully convicted of murder in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison, will be fully exonerated and entitled to financial compensation.

The Dallas County Conviction Integrity Unit began investigating this case in 2009 when the Innocence Project of Texas and the Innocence Project requested a review of the case.  Following a joint re-investigation, the CIU agreed to post-conviction relief in 2014 on the basis that the trial prosecutor suppressed exculpatory evidence.
 
The joint re-investigation continued four years and uncovered substantial evidence proving the men’s innocence, with much of that evidence in the trial prosecutor’s own files, but hidden from the defense until the Dallas County District Attorney’s office adopted an “open file” policy.
 
This evidence was submitted to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and in 2018 the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the convictions of both men based on the prosecutor suppressing multiple items of exculpatory evidence.  This evidence involved false testimony from jailhouse informants and statements from other witnesses that identified persons other than Mozee and Allen as the perpetrators of this murder.

In 2017, years after Allen and Mozee were wrongfully convicted, the Innocence Project of Texas (“IPTX”) supported and helped pass Texas House Bill 34 which requires prosecutors to disclose certain information regarding jailhouse informants if they’re going to use them as witnesses in a trial including: 

  • the jailhouse informant’s complete criminal history;

  • and any deal the prosecutor has made with the jailhouse informant in exchange for their testimony.

Had these legislative reforms pushed through by the Innocence Project of Texas in 2017 been in effect, and adhered to, during their original trial, Mozee and Allen would likely have never been wrongfully convicted.
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. 

“Due to egregious misconduct by the trial prosecutor, these two innocent men spent 14 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 argued for far too long: 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.”
  
The May 10, 2019 ruling formally exonerates both Mozee and Allen by dismissing the indictments against them, and makes them eligible for financial compensation under Texas Law.   Dennis Allen was represented by Gary Udashen and Bruce Anton of the Innocence Project of Texas.  Stanley Mozee was represented by Nina Morrison of the Innocence Project and Ezekiel Tyson, Jr., of Dallas. Both organizations worked on this case for over a decade before today’s exoneration.