With Maurice Clemmons, the killer of four Lakewood police officers, dead, Pierce County investigators and prosecutors late last year turned their sights to his alleged getaway driver.
For three months they studied police reports, viewed video surveillance and interviewed witnesses before deciding what charges to file against Darcus D. Allen in the Nov. 29 deaths of Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Greg Richards and Ronald Owens.
Their decision came Tuesday: Allen will face four counts of aggravated first-degree murder – the state’s highest crime – and a possible death sentence for his alleged role in the worst attack on law enforcement in state history.
“When you help a criminal, you become a criminal,” Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist said after Allen’s arraignment. “And when you help a murderer, knowing he intends to commit murder, you’re an accomplice to murder.”
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Pleas of not guilty were entered on Allen’s behalf during a brief court hearing attended by about a dozen friends and relatives of the slain officers, including the widows of Renninger and Richards. They left court without talking to reporters.
Superior Court Judge Vicki Hogan ordered Allen held without bail, which is standard in cases that carry a possible death sentence.
By law, Allen’s lawyers have 20 days to put together a case for why their client should not face the death penalty if convicted, and Lindquist has 10 days after that to make his decision.
The defense deadline in most cases is extended by several months, and public defender Mary K. High told Hogan she’d need more time.
The only other punishment for an aggravated first-degree murder conviction is life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Allen, 38, has been in custody since Dec. 1, two days after Clemmons walked into a Parkland Forza coffee shop and gunned down Renninger, Griswold, Richards and Owens as they prepared for their shifts. They died at the scene.
Clemmons was hit once when Richards returned fire.
Clemmons was the subject of a widespread manhunt that ended early Dec. 1 when a Seattle police officer shot him during a confrontation on a quiet residential street.
In addition to Allen, investigators arrested six of Clemmons’ family members and friends in connection with the case. They’ve been charged with multiple counts of rendering criminal assistance. Prosecutors contend they gave money, transportation and medical aid to Clemmons.
Authorities held Allen on a fugitive warrant for robbery out of his home state of Arkansas while they made their case against him.
Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644
Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268