The Washington State Supreme court has overturned the conviction of Darcus Allen, the getaway driver involved in the murder of four Lakewood police officers.
Allen was convicted of four counts of aggravated murder for his role as Maurice Clemmons’ getaway driver in the November 2009 shooting. He was sentenced to 420 years.
The Supreme Court released a statement Thursday: “The prosecuting attorney committed prejudicial misconduct by misstating the proper standard upon which the jury could find Allen acted with knowledge.”
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist explained to KIRO Radio, “Allen knew Clemmons’ plan. This is what the jury found and the court of appeals affirmed their verdict. The deputy prosecutor should have phrased his argument more artfully so it was not open to misinterpretation. But it would be evidence that convicted Allen, not the deputy prosecutor’s words.”
In opening arguments during the April 2011 trial, Pierce County Deputy Prosecutor Phil Sorenson argued Allen had heard an increasingly delusional Clemmons tell a Thanksgiving gathering of family and friends he was going to kill cops.
Sorenson also said Allen knew exactly what Clemmons planned when he got a call from Clemmons early that Sunday. He knew what he was doing when he drove him to a car wash in the area near McChord Air Force base, near the Forza coffee shop where the shooting happened.
Allen’s defense attorney then painted a picture of a down-on-his-luck Allen who worked for Clemmons’ landscaping company. He said Allen was desperate for money when Clemmons called early the morning of the shooting.
Allen’s attorney argued Clemmons told Allen if he dropped him off and washed his truck, Allen could use it that day to make some money.
A new trial has been ordered.
“I’m sorry the families and the community have to endure another trial. Sometimes the pursuit of justice can be a long and arduous path, but I’m confident that we can get there,” Lindquist said.
MyNorthwest.com’s Josh Kerns and Stephanie Klein contributed to this report.