South Sound News

Mistrial declared for alleged getaway driver in 2009 murder of four Lakewood officers

After lawyers made their case to a Pierce County jury on Oct. 31, a jury worked to decide the fate of the alleged getaway driver of the murders of four Lakewood police officers more than a decade ago.

On Thursday, Judge Edmund Murphy declared a mistrial, saying the jury was deadlocked.

Darcus Allen is accused of being an accomplice in the execution-style murders. The officers were gunned down three days after Thanksgiving in 2009.

Their killer, Maurice Clemmons, was shot and killed by Seattle police two days later.

Those closing arguments began at about 10 a.m. Oct. 31 at the Pierce County Superior Court. They wrapped up at about 3:30 p.m.

Each lawyer worked to convince the jury to side with them.

“Everyone associated with Maurice Clemmons was afraid,” said Mary Kay High, defense attorney.

In their closing arguments, the defense and the prosecution took the Pierce County jury back to that horrific Thanksgiving weekend nearly 13 years ago when four Lakewood police officers were shot and killed, execution style, by felon Maurice Clemmons.

In an instant, everyone he knew and went to for help was caught up in the intense search to catch him.

“When Maurice Clemmons came to their house on Nov. 29, what did he say?” asked High. “He said that he had killed police. What happens when Darcus gets there? Darcus says, ‘I didn’t know the man was going to do that.’”

Darcus Allen lived with Clemmons’ sister and drove him to the Forza Coffee shop where the officers were preparing for the day.

He drove to a car wash while Clemmons shot and killed officers Greg Richards, Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold and Sergeant Mark Renninger.

Allen’s attorney argued he did not know what Clemmons planned.

But Pierce County prosecuting attorney Sunni Ko argued that Allen knew, and that Clemmons had told his sister, Allen’s live-in girlfriend, that he wanted to kill police officers.

And, she said, by driving Clemmons to the Forza coffee shop, Allen is complicit, too.

“The defendant dropped off Maurice Clemmons,” said Ko. “If that first bullet to Tina Griswold’s head was fired before he had time to walk down to the Forza, then the defendant is guilty as charged.”

This was the second trial for Allen. His first conviction was thrown out.

“I am deeply disappointed that the jury could not agree on a verdict, resulting in a mistrial and the scheduling of another trial,” said Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro in a statement on Thursday. “The evidence is undisputed that Darcus Allen heard Maurice Clemmons talking about his intent to murder police officers in the days leading up to Nov. 29, 2009. There is no question that Allen went with Clemmons to the scene and stood by in the getaway vehicle while Clemmons committed the mass murder of our officers. He knew what Clemmons did, he saw his gunshot wound, and still he drove Clemmons from the scene and then hid in a motel under a fake name until police found and arrested him.”