Jury convicts killer's sister

Officer slayings: Woman guilty of helping alleged driver

June 11, 2010 

A Pierce County jury Thursday found the first person to stand trial in connection with the slayings of four Lakewood police officers guilty of two felonies.

Jurors deliberated for three days before convicting LaTanya Clemmons of two counts of first-degree rendering criminal assistance.

Prosecutors said Clemmons, 34, aided her cop-killer brother’s alleged getaway driver after the Nov. 29 shooting deaths of Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Greg Richards and Ronald Owens.

Clemmons, the mother of a 6-year-old daughter, showed no emotion as the verdicts were read. She faces up to five years in prison when sentenced next Thursday.

Superior Court Judge Stephanie Arend ordered her held without bail until sentencing.

Beth DeLong, Griswold’s sister-in-law, burst into tears when the verdicts were announced. She was the only relative of the fallen officers to make it to court in time for the verdicts.

Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist said his office is thrilled with the outcome, even though the jury acquitted Clemmons of two other counts of rendering criminal assistance.

“This is the first step in a long march toward justice,” Lindquist said. “The jury held her accountable.”

He also praised deputy prosecutors Stephen Penner and Kevin McCann, who tried the case.

Defense attorney Helen Whitener said she and Clemmons were disappointed.

Clemmons admitted she helped her roommate Dorcus Allen after the shootings but claimed she didn’t know he was wanted by police at the time.

“I don’t think the state’s evidence matched up with the law,” Whitener said.

The defendant’s brother, Maurice Clemmons, shot and killed Renninger, Griswold, Richards and Owens as they gathered at a Parkland coffee shop that Sunday morning.

Prosecutors say Allen drove Maurice Clemmons to and from the vicinity of the shop and knew that his friend intended to kill police officers. Clemmons later was shot dead by a Seattle police officer while fleeing during a region-wide manhunt.

Allen is charged with four counts of aggravated first-degree murder as an accomplice. Lindquist is analyzing whether he will seek the death penalty.

Prosecutors presented evidence during LaTanya Clemmons’ two-week trial that she drove Allen to a Federal Way motel room the day of the shootings and gave him money for a room there so he could elude police.

Jurors believed those allegations, which were charged in counts 1 and 2.

The also returned special verdicts on those counts, finding that LaTanya Clemmons’ actions affected others aside from the victims and that the crimes were aimed at law enforcement officers.

Those findings qualify her for a sentence outside the standard range of six to 12 months in jail, up to a maximum of five years per count.

Prosecutors also charged LaTanya Clemmons with providing money to Allen on Nov. 30 for a second night in the motel and for a bus ticket to Arkansas.

Jurors, who left the County-City Building without talking to reporters, acquitted her of those two counts.

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