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Originally published Friday, June 17, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Maurice Clemmons' getaway driver sentenced to 420 years in prison

Darcus Allen, the getaway driver in the murder of four Lakewood police officers in November 2009, was sentenced Friday to 420 years in prison.

Seattle Times staff reporter

quotes This might be the longest sentence ever for a getaway driver. I see this going to... Read more
quotes Wait, so they can give this guy 420 years for being an accomplice to murder (yes I... Read more
quotes He should have just driven drunk and killed people. He would have gotten 4 years instead. Read more

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The getaway driver in the murders of four Lakewood police officers was sentenced Friday to 420 years in prison, but not before he lambasted prosecutors for turning him into a "scapegoat."

Pierce County Judge Frederick Fleming imposed the maximum possible sentence on Darcus D. Allen, a 39-year-old Arkansas native, citing what he saw as a lack of regret. Allen, convicted of four counts of first-degree murder last month, faced a minimum of 80 years, an effective life sentence.

The sentence ends the last of seven trials stemming from the murder of the Lakewood police officers on Nov. 29, 2009, by Maurice Clemmons, a transplanted Arkansan who had been gripped by delusions and hatred of police in the months leading up to the murders.

A jury found Allen knew or should have known Clemmons was intent on murder when Allen drove him to a Parkland coffee shop frequented by officers.

Before sentencing, Tom DeLong, brother of slain Lakewood police Officer Tina Griswold, said he hopes Allen suffers in prison.

"Although I would have liked to see Darcus Allen hanged for his crimes, I find some comfort in the thought that he will do a long, miserable sentence" and will die behind bars, he said.

In a three-minute statement, Allen said he was innocent because he was blind to Clemmons' plan. He portrayed himself as a victim of public outrage about the crime — the worst violence against law enforcement in state history — and an easy target for prosecutors who had charges pending against Clemmons at the time of the murders.

"In an attempt to escape your own ineptitude and responsibility, you, the Pierce County prosecutor and this injustice system, has created a convenient scapegoat in myself, Darcus Allen," he said.

He turned to Kim Renninger, widow of slain Sgt. Mark Renninger, and opened his arms.

"I'm sorry about what happened to your family. If I could have stopped it, I would have stopped it. I had no idea this man was going to kill your family members. That's the honest-to-God truth," he said.

Allen's defense lawyer, Peter Mazzone, said he would appeal. His co-counsel, Mary Kay High, had asked Fleming on Friday for a new trial based on what she said was a misstatement of the law by Pierce County prosecutors in closing statements to the jury.

Deputy Prosecutor Stephen Penner simplified a law regarding criminal accomplices, urging jurors to convict Allen if he "should have known" Clemmons intended to kill police the morning of Nov. 29, 2009. High said that misstated the law, but Fleming rejected her appeal.

A juror, Eric Freutel, watched the sentencing. Afterward, he said the jury convicted Allen because they were convinced he lied about his actions the morning of the murders. The jury, after reconstructing the morning of the murders, believed Allen dropped off Clemmons directly at the coffee shop instead of at a car wash a quarter-mile away, as Allen has said.

"There was no reasonable doubt from my perspective," said Freutel, 61, of Fox Island.

Five other friends or family members of Maurice Clemmons have been convicted of aiding Clemmons during a chaotic 40-hour manhunt after the murders. Seattle police Officer Benjamin Kelly shot and killed Clemmons as he tried to sneak up on Kelly, pre-dawn, on a South Seattle street.

Jonathan Martin: 206-464-2605 or jmartin@seattletimes.com

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