LOCAL NEWS

Retrial of accused Lakewood Four getaway driver set to begin

Sep 19, 2022, 6:32 PM
lakewood...
Investigators survey the area where suspect Maurice Clemmons was shot and killed by a Seattle police officer early December 1, 2009 in Seattle, Washington. Clemmons was the subject of a massive manhunt after he allegedly killed four Lakewood, Washington police officers in a suburban coffee shop November 29, 2009. Four other people are in custody for allegedly helping the suspect elude authorities. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

It was one of the most shocking crimes in Puget Sound history – four police officers sitting down in a coffee shop ahead of their Sunday morning shift in 2009 were gunned down in cold blood. The ambush-murders of the Lakewood Four, as they would come to be known, led to a massive two-day manhunt for their killer, Arkansas felon Maurice Clemmons. The manhunt ended two nights later when Clemmons was shot and killed by a lone Seattle police officer he encountered.

Clemmons had a long and violent criminal history that included multiple felony convictions in Arkansas and Washington, starting when he was 17. Several psychologists, criminal profilers, and others warned along the way that he was likely to commit more violent crimes.

He had been released on bail for separate charges just six days before he walked into the then-Forza coffee shop in Parkland. Then, without saying a word, Clemmons pulled out a 9mm Glock 17 and opened fire on the four officers – none of whom he had any history with.

Homicides in WA highest in nearly 30 years, violent crime on the rise

39-year-old Sergeant Mark Renninger and 40-year-old Officer Tina Griswold both died almost instantly after being shot in the head. 37-year-old Officer Ronald Owens died from a gunshot wound to the neck as he tried to draw his weapon and 42-year-old Officer Greg Richards died from a gunshot wound to the head, but not before returning fire and striking Clemmons in the abdomen.

Witnesses reported Clemmons fled the coffee shop dripping blood and got in the passenger side of a white truck that was running nearby. It was later determined to be driven by now-50-year-old Darcus Allen, who would be charged with aggravated first-degree murder for being the alleged getaway driver in the Lakewood Four murders.

Allen has always maintained he had no idea what Clemmons planned to do when he drove him near the coffee shop and did not know what he’d done when he drove him away from the scene. Allen said he did not realize anything was wrong until he noticed Clemmons was injured, at which point he claimed he abandoned the truck and Clemmons, saying he wanted no part in this.

However, prosecutors found no evidence of Allen ever abandoning the truck.

A jury in 2011 convicted Allen on four counts of first-degree murder, but did not find evidence to support the aggravating factors which would have led to an automatic life without parole sentence. The jury did find there was evidence to support sentencing enhancement factors such as knowing the victims were law enforcement. Allen was sentenced to 420 years in prison.

But in 2015, the State Supreme Court vacated the convictions, citing prosecutor misconduct because of language the deputy prosecutor used during closing arguments.

Prosecutors hoped to retry Allen on aggravated first-degree murder charges with sentencing enhancements, but Allen’s defense team would appeal, arguing the retrial was double jeopardy.

A series of appeals ensued. It all culminated in a final appellate decision from a three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week, rejecting the final appeal from Allen’s defense team.

That decision cleared the way for the retrial to begin. Allen was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and sentencing enhancements, but not the aggravating factors, which would mandate automatic life without parole. Since the original jury had already cleared Allen of those charges, retrying them would have been double jeopardy. However, since the original jury convicted him of first-degree murder and sentencing enhancements, those did not violate double jeopardy laws.

Pierce County prosecutors say they expected jury selection to get underway Thursday, with opening statements likely near the end of the month.

Follow Hanna Scott on Twitter or email her here

Local News

autumn...
Ted Buehner

Dry summers delay changes in leaves, but brilliant autumn colors around the corner

This sunny dry weather is expected to continue through Columbus Day Weekend, providing more unseasonably warm weather for enjoying fall hues.
17 hours ago
investigations...
Hanna Scott

No timeline for Office of Independent Investigations use of force cases to begin

“The new Office of Independent Investigation will increase transparency and trust in investigations of deadly uses of force by law enforcement."
17 hours ago
mariners...
Nicole Jennings

Postseason baseball within reach for Mariners, starved fans

With playoffs closer than ever, Mariners fans await tonight's results with baited breath
17 hours ago
bipoc...
Hanna Scott

Report discovers troubling gap between BIPOC, white homeowners in Washington state

More than 143,000 BIPOC households would need to become homeowners to close the gap between white and BIPOC households in Washington.
17 hours ago
shooting...
Sam Campbell

Edmonds high school student arrested for bringing ‘ghost gun’ to school

Edmonds Police Department (EDP) thanking the vigilance of one student who they say spoke up when they knew a fellow 15-year-old student brought a loaded gun to class at Edmonds-Woodway High School Thursday.
17 hours ago
Photo from KIRO 7...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Olympia woman facing fines over ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign inside her home

An Olympia woman is being threatened with fines over a sign hanging inside her home.
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Retrial of accused Lakewood Four getaway driver set to begin