December 3, 2009 in City

Police: Driver waited for cops’ killer at shop

Man could face accomplice to murder charges
Rachel La Corte Associated Press
Associated Press photos photo

Darcus Allen appears in Pierce County Superior Court on Wednesday in Tacoma. Allen is accused of driving suspected gunman Maurice Clemmons away from the coffee shop where four officers were killed Sunday. Public defender Jack McNeish is at right. Associated Press photos
(Full-size photo)

TACOMA – The convicted murderer who drove Maurice Clemmons from the coffee shop where he killed four suburban police officers waited for him in the getaway truck with a newly purchased cigar while Clemmons committed the crimes, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Darcus Allen, 38, who did time with Clemmons in an Arkansas prison, pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail after he was charged with being a fugitive. The prosecutor is reviewing evidence to determine what charges will be filed.

Charges could include criminal assistance charges, but prosecutors warned they might charge Allen with the more serious offense of being an accomplice to first-degree murder – a crime that could bring the same penalties as if he had shot the officers himself: life without release, or execution.

“We will prosecute everyone involved in this murder to the greatest extent possible,” said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

Investigators said Allen was the first among a network of friends and relatives who helped Clemmons avoid police during a two-day manhunt that began when Clemmons walked into the Forza coffee house Sunday morning and shot to death four Lakewood police officers.

Charging papers filed Wednesday state that Allen initially told police he had nothing to do with the crime and hadn’t seen Clemmons in a long time. But he eventually acknowledged driving Clemmons to the scene, buying a cigar as he waited for him to return and speeding away after Clemmons climbed in the passenger side with a bullet in his abdomen, the papers state.

Allen told investigators that he quickly decided he wanted no part of what Clemmons had done and bailed out of the truck at the first intersection – but investigators said that was a lie, contradicted by other evidence.

One of the officers managed to shoot Clemmons in the gut before dying, but with first aid, rides and money from his associates, Clemmons survived two days on the run. He was shot and killed early Tuesday morning by a lone patrolman who encountered him on a south Seattle street.

Along with Allen, two women appeared in Pierce County Superior Court on Wednesday and were ordered held for 72 hours on $500,000 bail, bringing to six the number of people to make court appearances after being arrested for investigation of helping the killer.

“For some reason, this guy has a pretty big support system,” Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said Wednesday. “That’s not right. You’re putting yourself up against society, the justice system and the cops.”

The two women who appeared in court Wednesday were Clemmons’ friend, Quiana Maylea Williams, and his aunt, Letricia Nelson. They gave first aid to Clemmons, helped him change clothes and made arrangements to get him to other locations, police said.

Lindquist declined to discuss what will factor into his decision on whether to charge Allen as an accomplice to murder.

Janet Ainsworth, a criminal law professor at Seattle University School of Law, said such decisions typically hinge on the helper’s state of mind and how much they do to assist or encourage the crime.

“It’s whether he knew he was there to facilitate a crime,” she said. “It’s not just guessing participation; it’s knowing participation.”

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