Billy Allen’s case presented the first major challenge to the State of Texas when it came to answering the question: Who is an Exoneree? The State basically claimed that only people exonerated with DNA evidence qualified for compensation. We were determined to change this position.
In Billy’s case, he was convicted of a double murder because of his name. One of the victims survived long enough to identify his killer in front of two paramedics and a police officer. The man named by the victim: Billy Wayne Allen.
The problem was that the officer failed to mention the victim gave a middle name. Billy Frederick Allen was arrested, instead, and the officer testified at trial that he had been identified as the murderer. The two paramedics were never called to testify and Billy’s lawyer was never told that they witnessed the identification.
After Billy Frederick Allen was convicted of this horrendous crime, he learned that one paramedic specifically remembered the victim gave the name of Billy Wayne Allen, instead. The second paramedic did not recall the name, but would later testify that–different from the police officer’s testimony–he did remember the victim stressing a middle name.
Billy spent a quarter of a century fighting from behind bars to prove his innocence. Although he was able to convince the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that he was probably innocent, that court pointed out when Billy’s case first came before them that they simply did not have the power to free an innocent man at that time.
Let that sink in: Texas’ highest criminal court was convinced of Billy’s innocence but did not see that it had the power to release him.
Years later, after another legally-similar case worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court and ended in freedom for an innocent man, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals once again took a look at Billy’s case. This time, modeling it’s decision on the one made by the U.S. Supreme Court, the court decided it finally had the power to let an innocent man walk free.
This only began another chapter in Billy Frederick Allen’s legal struggles. Having watched my progress with other Exoneree cases, Billy sought me out and hired my law firm to represent him. Working with this man was one of the greatest professional pleasures of my career.
It took another three years of fighting and a subsequent trip to the Supreme Court for me, but eventually–and once again–all 9 justices were unanimous in their decision that Billy Allen was an innocent man who should be compensated for the injustice he endured.