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Published January 25th, 2014 - 7:31PM
A Pierce County councilman is weighing ways to regulate bikini baristas and control how much skin the coffee servers are showing.
Published January 25th, 2014 - 11:58AM
Flames three stories high keep fire fighters out
Published January 24th, 2014 - 7:50PM
A former Pierce Transit bus driver injured on the job when attacked by hooligans contends the agency and its insurance company are improperly withholding disability payments he’s due.
Published January 23rd, 2014 - 12:05AM
The estate of a Pierce County murder victim has sued the state Department of Corrections, contending the agency did not do enough to supervise the three ex-cons convicted of killing Lenard Masten.
Published January 21st, 2014 - 9:35PM
Pierce County prosecutors say a soldier stabbed to death in South Hill over the weekend came to the aid of a woman being attacked by her boyfriend.
Published January 21st, 2014 - 12:05AM
Lakewood is considering replacement of its roughly 3,000 streetlights, exchanging the familiar orange glow for the blue hue cast by LED lights.
Published January 19th, 2014 - 12:05AM
Lakewood leaders are debating whether to ban smoking and other tobacco use from the city’s 12 parks, including Fort Steilacoom Park, one of the region’s largest.
Published January 17th, 2014 - 3:56PM
A Lakewood petroleum distribution company with 10,000 customers in 12 Western Washington counties Friday shut down its operations after a plan to reorganize its business foundered. Pettit Oil Co. will liquidate its assets, said the company's bankruptcy attorney, Brian Budsberg of Olympia. Those assets include a fleet of some 70 vehicles and facilities in some 20 Western Washington cities.
Published January 16th, 2014 - 9:55AM
Lakewood police found a rifle and shell casing in a car with five soldiers and text messages on their phone discussing a plan to shoot up a sports bar, but the men still denied their involvement.
Published January 14th, 2014 - 3:25PM

A divided state Court of Appeals panel has upheld the convictions of Dorcus Allen, the getaway driver in one of Pierce County’s most notorious crimes.

In a 2-1 decision, the Division II panel rejected Allen’s arguments that he deserves a new trial in the deaths of four Lakewood police officers shot by Maurice Clemmons at a Parkland coffee shop more than four years ago.

Allen, who drove Clemmons to and from the scene of the massacre, was the only person to stand trial for murder in the deaths of Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Gregory Richards and Ronald Owens.

Clemmons was killed by a Seattle police officer during a desperate manhunt in the days following the killings.

A Pierce County jury convicted Allen of four counts of premeditated first-degree murder in June 2012, and now-retired Superior Court Judge Frederick Fleming sentenced him to 420 years in prison.

Allen appealed, arguing among other things that there was not enough evidence to convict him, that prosecutors prejudiced his right to a fair trial by misstating the law and that Fleming improperly handed down an exceptional sentence.

In an opinion released Tuesday, Justices Joel Penoyar and James Verellen affirmed Allen’s convictions and sentence.

One of Allen’s chief arguments on appeal, and one he made at trial and reiterated at sentencing, is that he didn’t know what Clemmons intended to do the morning of Nov. 29, 2009.

Penoyar and Verellen rejected that contention.

“Allen knew that Clemmons was threatening to shoot police officers, and Allen fled the scene and hid after the shooting,” Penoyar wrote for the majority. “Because of this and other significant incriminating testimony, there is sufficient evidence to prove that Allen knew he was assisting Clemmons.”

Another of Allen’s chief arguments is that deputy prosecutors misstated the law during their closing arguments at his trial, lessening their burden and prejudicing his right to a fair trial.

In order to prove Allen was an accomplice to Clemmons’ acts, prosecutors had to prove he had direct knowledge that Clemmons intended to kill Renninger, Griswold, Richards and Owens.

During closing arguments, prosecutors stated a number of times that Allen “should have known” what Clemmons intended to do. Defense attorneys objected, but Fleming over-ruled their objections and referred jurors to the jury instructions.

Those instructions included a definition of what “knowing” is, including “a person knows or acts knowingly or with knowledge with respect to a fact or circumstance when he or she is aware of that fact or circumstance.”

Penoyar and Verellen agreed that prosecutors misstated the law during closing arguments, but they decided it did not violate Allen’s right to a fair trial.

“Because the trial court’s instructions correctly stated the law regarding knowledge, any improper argument by the prosecutors was not prejudicial,” Penoyar wrote.

What’s more, Allen’s trial attorneys did not ask Fleming to add a “curative instruction” to refute the prosecutors’ misstatements of the law, the majority ruled.

“Not acting on this opportunity to rectify the error, Allen agreed to the trial court’s proposal of simply referring the jury back to the legally correct instructions already given,” Penoyar wrote.

Justice Bradley Maxa dissented.

Maxa said the prosecution’s repeated misstatement of the law during closing arguments did violate Allen’s rights.

“I conclude that the misstatements were repeated so often and were so significant in the context of the trial evidence that there was a substantial likelihood that the jury’s verdict was affected,” he wrote. “Therefore, I would reverse and remand for a new trial.”

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist praised the majority decision.

“While there is pain in the memory of the four fallen officers, we take satisfaction in justice, which was done here,” Lindquist said. “The individuals who assisted Clemmons were held accountable.  Defendant Allen, as an accomplice and getaway driver, was by far the most culpable, and he is therefore serving the greatest sentence.”

Seven people in all were charged with crimes in the wake of the massacre.

Six, including Allen, were convicted, but appeals courts threw out the convictions against two of those people and reduced the sentences for two others.

The seventh was acquitted at trial.



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