Alleged getaway driver of Lakewood cop killer must keep his attorney, judge says

The alleged getaway driver of a man who gunned down four Lakewood police officers in 2009 made an unsuccessful bid for a new attorney Friday.

Dorcus Dewayne Allen is awaiting retrial in Pierce County Superior Court, which won't happen until the Washington State Supreme Court finishes reviewing his case.

"What I gather is that you're unhappy with the delay," Superior Court Judge Stanley Rumbaugh told Allen on Friday, after reading his motion for a new attorney.

That can't be helped, the judge explained, because the Supreme Court's decision determines what charges prosecutors can bring.

Division II of the Washington State Court of Appeals said last year that prosecutors couldn't retry Allen for aggravated first-degree murder, which would mean an automatic sentence of life without parole.

Prosecutors appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which accepted the case earlier this year.

If the high court upholds the decision, Allen's retrial will be for first-degree murder. If it doesn't, trial for aggravated murder and a possible automatic life sentence would be back on the table.

"I'm ready to go, but I just need to know what the charges are," Rumbaugh said.

Allen, who turns 47 on Saturday (April 14) and also goes by the first name Darcus, told the court he doesn't believe his "due process issues" are being addressed "while we're in this standstill."

He argued that defense attorney Mary K. High seems to be "totally unaware," when it comes to specifics about his Sixth Amendment rights.

Rumbaugh said he didn't see anything deficient about High's work on the case, and he pointed out that the work of Allen's defense counsel on his appeal is the reason he's back in court at all.

"I'm going to deny your motion," the judge said.

High told the court she understood Allen's frustration.

"I have endeavored to represent Mr. Allen to the best of my ability," she said. "... As Mr. Allen knows, I have been very committed to this case."

And she'll continue to do so, she said.

Allen, who has pleaded not guilty, is suspected of driving Maurice Clemmons to the Parkland coffee shop where Clemmons killed the four officers in November 2009, and then driving him away.

Clemmons fatally shot police Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Gregory Richards and Ronald Owens.

A Seattle police officer fatally shot Clemmons after a manhunt.

At Allen's initial trial, jurors found him guilty of four counts of first-degree murder and not of the aggravated murder charges.

He was sentenced to 400 months in prison, but won an appeal in which he argued there was prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments in the case.

Prosecutors sought to retry Allen for four counts of aggravated murder, but Allen's defense team, including High, argued that would be double jeopardy, because jurors already said no to the aggravated murder charges.

Then-Superior Court Judge Katherine Stolz agreed with the defense and prosecutors appealed her decision to Division II. The appellate court agreed with Stolz, and prosecutors appealed to the state Supreme Court in January.

Oral arguments are expected later this year.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell