Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist announced Friday that he will not seek the death penalty for the man charged with giving Maurice Clemmons a ride to and from the vicinity of the Parkland coffee shop where Clemmons killed four Lakewood police officers last year.
Lindquist said he instead will seek life in prison without the possibility of release for Dorcus Allen, who is charged as an accomplice with four counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the Nov. 29, 2009, deaths of Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Greg Richards and Ronald Owens.
Allen, 39, has pleaded not guilty. He’s being held in the Pierce County Jail without bail.
That Allen is not charged with taking a direct role in the killing of the officers played a large part in the decision not to seek capital punishment, Lindquist said.
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No one charged as an accomplice with aggravated first- degree murder, the state’s highest crime, has been executed in Washington since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
“Given the law in Washington and Allen’s role as an accomplice, I don’t believe the death penalty would ever be imposed on Allen,” the prosecutor said. “The justice we will seek in this case, a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, is severe, appropriate and achievable.”
Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar and Renninger’s widow, Kim Renninger, said in a statement released by Lindquist’s office that they support the decision.
“From a purely emotional perspective, the death penalty is appealing in this case,” Farrar said. “However, from a legal and practical perspective, I understand and support the prosecutor’s decision.”
Added Renninger: “I completely support the prosecutor’s decision.”
One of Allen’s two attorneys, Mary K. High, said she and her client were relieved.
“I’m very, very appreciative that Mr. Lindquist took his time and made a carefully considered decision,” High said.
Allen has been apprised of the decision, she said.
“He knows, and he’s grateful that that’s behind him,” she said. “He said, ‘Thanks.’ ”
Clemmons attacked Renninger, Griswold, Richards and Owens without provocation and then fled Pierce County, sparking the largest manhunt in state history.
A Seattle police officer shot and killed Clemmons, 37, on Dec. 1, 2009, while investigating a stolen car abandoned on a city street.
Seven people were charged with crimes in the wake of the massacre. Five, including LaTanya K. Clemmons, the killer’s sister and Allen’s occasional lover, have been convicted of various charges.
A jury in June found her guilty of rendering criminal assistance to Allen. Prosecutors convinced jurors that LaTanya Clemmons, 35, knew Allen had helped her brother the morning the officers were shot and that she helped him avoid police.
She is serving a five-year prison sentence.