Driver in Lakewood police murders won't face aggravated murder charge, court rules

Driver in Lakewood police murders won't face aggravated murder charge, court rules

An Arkansas man who is waiting for a new trial was dealt a victory by the Washington Supreme Court Thursday.

Darcus Allen is accused of helping Maurice Clemmons, the man who killed four Lakewood police officers inside a Parkland coffee shop in November 2009. The murders spurred a massive manhunt, which led to Clemmons being shot and killed by Seattle police.

Allen, who is accused of being Clemmons’ getaway driver, was charged with four counts of aggravated murder. A jury in 2011 found Allen guilty of four counts of first-degree murder and a judge sentenced him to nearly 400 years in prison.

Last year an appeals court reversed the sentence, accusing the trial prosecutor of misconduct for telling the jury that Allen “should have known” Clemmons intended to commit the murders.

On Thursday, the Washington Supreme Court “Constitutionally barred” Pierce County prosecutors from retrying Allen on aggravated murder charges. In the order, written by Justice Mary Yu, the court said, “Retrial on aggravating circumstances is barred by double jeopardy principals and thus affirm.”

On Thursday, Pete Mazzone, who with Mary K. High is defending Allen, said his client is innocent.

“The state cannot retry him on aggravated murder charges again it can only be murder,” Mazzone said. “Today, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington agreed with us as well.”

Allen has said that Clemmons ordered him to wait at a Parkland car wash. That he didn’t know what Clemmons had planned.

Mazzone said Allen will likely be retried in the spring.

“We will be defending him with everything we’ve got,” Mazzone said.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said in a statement that his office has not decided how to move forward.

"We're studying our options," Lindquist said. "This case is important to the community and the legal issues are significant. Therefore, we may ask for review by the United States Supreme Court."

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