Two men who were convicted of killing a South Dallas pastor more than 15 years ago have now been set free. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins made the recommendation on Tuesday morning, saying that their convictions should be overturned.
“A former prosecutor lied to get these convictions,” said Watkins.
Jesse Borns Jr. was killed in April 1999 and The Innocence Project has been combing through the files of the case since 2008. A jury convicted 55-year-old Stanley Mozee and 52-year-old Dennis Lee Allen in 2000, and they each received a life sentence for robbery and the stabbing death of the pastor.
However, members with The Innocence Project found PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT in the case files. Watkins said that the original prosecutor played dirty tricks. Letters in the files reportedly show that jailhouse witnesses demanded benefits from the prosecutor, and that “substantive discussions” with the witnesses were not disclosed.
According to the district attorney’s office, one witness was able to mislead the jury.
Mozee and Allen were in court again on Tuesday morning for a hearing to overturn their convictions, a day which they had been awaiting for more than a decade. The men have always claimed that they were innocent. They entered the courtroom on Tuesday blowing kisses and waving at family members and friends. A group of 15 other men who have been exonerated were also in the courtroom for the occasion. Their time in prison ranged from four to 30 years.
And, after the quick hearing was over, the judge did overturn the convictions, telling Allen and Mozee, “You are free to go.” They are now no longer in custody. However, this was not a formal exoneration. The case will now also be reviewed by a higher court.
“I have no animosity toward anyone,” stated Mozee on Tuesday. “As a matter of fact, I give the Dallas County judicial system a positive note, if the court of criminal appeals will act and do the just thing in this matter.”
“It feels wonderful,” said Allen. “I mean, it’s kind of hard to explain, but try to imagine the greatest joy you have ever experienced in your life, and that’s what I’m feeling right now.”
When asked if he ever gave up hope on being exonerated, Mozee replied, “No sir. I had God and I knew the truth would come to light.”