innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Monday, July 31, 2006

Allen H. Coco Granted a New Trial

A man sentenced to life for rape will get a new trial because the DNA found on the victim didn't match his.

Although prosecutors conceded that Allen H. Coco's DNA wasn't a match for that from a man stabbed after raping a woman in 1997, District Attorney John DeRosier said he was not conceding that the Lake Charles man is innocent.

Coco, convicted in 1997 by Judge Greg Lyons, has said from the first that he was misidentified. His attorney, Ron Ware, noted that the victim never mentioned tattoos, and Coco's arms are covered with them.

State district court Judge Kent Savoie ordered a new trial for him Wednesday.

Assistant District Attorney Wayne Frey, who tried the case in November 1997, said DNA wasn't used as evidence because the sample obtained from the victim was too small to be tested at the time.

Defense attorney Ava DeMontagne, of the Innocence Project of New Orleans, asked for a new trial after commissioning an independent analysis which showed that it didn't match Coco's, Frey said.

Lyons sentenced Coco, a prior felon, to life on the rape charge and a concurrent 15-year term for burglary.

The woman testified that she was raped and sodomized late May 25 or early the next morning by a man who broke into her apartment. He had a bandanna over his face and tried to keep a pillow over her head, but she managed to grab the knife and stab him in the buttocks as he fled through a window, she said.

She identified Coco from a photo lineup, Lake Charles police Sgt. Ray Laviolet testified.

Coco showed no evidence of any knife wound to his buttocks when he was arrested June 20, Laviolet said.

An expert said bloodstains from the apartment matched Coco's blood type and enzyme makeup.

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