The alleged getaway driver for a man who killed four Lakewood police officers cannot be tried again for aggravated first-degree murder in the case, the state Supreme Court said Thursday.
The ruling upholds earlier decisions of the trial court and state Court of Appeals.
Instead of aggravated murder, a conviction for which would mean a mandatory sentence of life without parole in prison, 47-year-old Dorcus Dewayne Allen faces retrial for four counts of first-degree murder.
Allen, who has pleaded not guilty, is accused of driving Maurice Clemmons to and from the Parkland coffee shop where Clemmons fatally shot Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Gregory Richards and Ronald Owens in November 2009.
A Seattle police officer shot and killed Clemmons following a manhunt.
Jurors at Allen’s first trial convicted him of four counts of first-degree murder but not of the aggravated murder charges.
Allen was sentenced to 420 years in prison but successfully argued on appeal that there was prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments in the case.
When prosecutors attempted to retry Allen for four counts of aggravated murder, his attorneys argued that would amount to double jeopardy because a jury already said no to the aggravated murder charges.
In an 8-0 decision Thursday, with Justice Barbara Madsen not participating, the state’s high court agreed.
While the ruling means Allen, also known by the first name Darcus, has avoided the possibility of an automatic life sentence, it’s still likely he would die in prison if convicted of the four counts of first-degree murder.
Asked about whether the trial is expected to go forward next year, the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday that it might ask the U.S. Supreme Court for review.