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NC Court of Appeals reverses ruling that freed Durham man from prison

Posted September 4, 2012

— The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed a ruling that dismissed the case against Derrick Michael Allen, a Durham man who spent 12 years in prison for the murder and sexual assault of a toddler.

The appeals court concluded that Durham County Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson erred when he threw out Allen’s case in 2010. Hudson had agreed with the defense's contention that the State Bureau of Investigation violated Allen’s rights by not sharing everything it found in blood tests.

But in his opinion, Appeals Court Judge Sam Ervin IV sided with prosecutors, who said the trial court made certain findings of fact without adequate evidence and was wrong to conclude Allen's constitutional rights were violated.

Allen's case was among 200 cases that an outside audit said were mishandled by the SBI. The audit revealed agents failed to report correct blood evidence in the cases.

In his opinion Monday, Ervin emphasized that his decision should not be mistaken for an approval of how the state gathered its evidence.

"On the contrary, we share the trial court's displeasure with the manner in which the blood testing results were disclosed to the defendant and the manner in which aspects of the prosecution of this case have been handled," Ervin wrote. "Even so, given our inability to discern any legal basis for the sanction imposed in the trial court's order, we are obligated to reverse it."

The appeals court has remanded the case back to Durham County Superior Court. Derrick Michael Allen Court of Appeals reverses ruling that freed Durham man

Allen is in jail in Randolph County on unrelated charges.

Allen was charged in 1998 in the death and sexual assault of his then-girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter. According to court documents, Allen was baby-sitting the child when he called 911, telling authorities the girl was unresponsive. Emergency personnel arrived to find the toddler had no pulse and what appeared to be blood on the inside leg of her sleepsuit. 

An autopsy showed the girl died of shaken baby syndrome.

Interim District Attorney Leon Stanback said the appeals court decision is appropriate and he hopes there can now be justice for the victim.

Stanback was a judge in Superior Court when he sentenced Allen on an Alford plea. An Alford plea does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence for a jury to reach a guilty verdict.

Stanback said he has asked the Attorney General's Office whether there is any conflict of interest with his handling the case. He will also likely get an opinion from the State Bar Association.


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  • beachboater Sep 5, 2012

    "He may have been freed by the judge, but that will cost him in getting a job." charmcclainlovesdogs2

    Can you explain this please? "Cost him in getting a job". If you are talking about Allen, it seems obvious that he isn't looking for a job. He's in jail now for selling cocaine. That isn't a job.

    I don't understand the comment.

  • piene2 Sep 4, 2012

    "They have muddied the water..did the guy kill the child or not?

    It really does not matter if he did or did not. If the evidence was tainted than the entire prosecution is the fruit of a poisoned tree and the conviction needs to be overturned.

  • rman Sep 4, 2012

    I've maintained all along that there was some truth in Tracy Cline's story. It sure warranted more investigation than it got. I wish they would reopen it and give the chance for her to be exonerated.
    Just my two cents worth.
    This baby killer needs to be executed, not kept behind bars at tax payers expense for the rest of his life.

  • superman Sep 4, 2012

    Mr. Hudson needs to resign and retire. He just doesnt have it anymore. Kinda thinking that Cline was certainly not all wrong.

  • airbornemonty Sep 4, 2012

    Reading that Judge Hudson made the horrendous decision to free the murderer of a baby, perhaps reopening and investigating Ms. Cline's arguments might shed some light into the judges past history.

  • Marty King Sep 4, 2012

    Why is he back in jail again? What is the unrelated charge in Randolph County? Did he shake another baby?

  • ncouterbanks69 Sep 4, 2012


  • chattycat Sep 4, 2012

    Report abuse


    A baby killer freed by Judge Hudson. what a surprise!

    Thank goodness the higher court overruled this injustice. Make this murderer do his time.

    The 2 year old did not get off with a technicality...

    Amen to that! He should never see the light of day if he did this crime.

  • SFSOLDIER Sep 4, 2012

    Just another "criminal," lock him up and forget about him. There are thousands waiting in line to end up in the same place he's going...jail!

  • timmystrickland402 Sep 4, 2012

    He will be charged and arrested again for this crime