After 12 years in prison on a 43-year sentence for sex offenses and murder charges, Derrick Michael Allen was set free by Durham Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson. The State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and local prosecutors had failed to disclose crucial details of blood tests related to evidence In Allen's case, according to the Judge, requiring dismissal.
Allen never previously faced a trial. He accepted a guilty verdict, but did not admit guilt, on charges of first-degree sexual assault and second-degree murder. In doing so, he avoided facing a death sentence if he were found guilty at trial.
In 1998, Allen and another female were left to take care of Allen's girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter. Within a half hour of the girl's mother leaving for work, Allen called 911 because the 2-year-old was not responding to him. An autopsy later revealed that the child was shaken to death.
One of the problems with the case against Allen relates to evidence of blood found in the toddler's underwear and clothing. Questionable results or questionable test procedures by the SBI crime lab were not revealed to Allen's defense team, in violation of rules of disclosure in criminal cases.
Allen was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea in 2009 and was facing trial in 2010 when the charges against him were dismissed. Judge Hudson cited the withholding of "critical information" by prosecutors and "flagrant violations" of Allen's constitutional rights as requiring that the charges against him be dismissed.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently held that Judge Hudson should not have dismissed the sex offense and murder counts against Allen and reinstated the criminal charges.
Source: News Observer, "Appeals court reverses murder case dismissal," September 6, 2012