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Jury Finds Getaway Driver Guilty in Cop Killing Case

Darcus Allen faces life in prison after Pierce County Superior Court jury finds him guilty for his role in the slaying of four Lakewood police officers. Investigators say he drove Maurice Clemmons to and from the coffee shop where the killings occurred.

A Pierce County jury found Darcus Allen—the man accused of being the getaway driver in the shooting deaths of four Lakewood Police officers—guilty on four counts of first-degree murder on Thursday at the Tacoma Municipal Courthouse.

Allen, clad in khaki pants and a light beige shirt, let out small chuckles as the judge gave final instructions to the jury. Allen remained subdued and emotionless as the verdict was read.

As he was led out of court, Allen said,  "You all got what you wanted. It ain't going to bring them back."

Allen will be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. on June 17. Mark Lindquist, the Pierce County Prosecutor, said his office will pursue a life sentence. Lindquist said this has been a long march to justice.

"The sixth defendant was held accountable," he said. "The jury found that Mr. Allen was an accomplice to Clemmons and the victims were four officers."

Prosecutors had said Allen drove Maurice Clemmons to a coffee shop outside Lakewood on Nov. 29, 2009, then waited nearby while Clemmons fatally shot Lakewood Police Sgt. Mark Renninger and Officers Ronnie Owens, Tina Griswold and Greg Richards.

Jurors began deliberating a week ago. For several days, said juror Prokop Hruby, they didn't know which way to go.

"Four people were saying 'not guilty' and the rest 'guilty,'" Hruby said. "We were coming back and attacking points and doing a timeline. The timeline was very important. It was one of the tougher decisions we had to make in our life."

Defense attorney Peter Mazzone said they're going to appeal. "It was the wrong decision," Mazzone said. "There are lots of reasons to appeal."

Lakewood Police Assistant Chief Mike Zaro said the verdict gives the police department a little closure. "We're all, as a department, grateful the jury came to a positive resolution," Zaro said.

Allen was the last of six defendants tried in connection with the fatal shootings of Tina Griswold, Owens, Richards and Mark Renninger.  The four were killed at the Forza coffee shop just outside of Lakewood in unincorporated Pierce County.

Clemmons, the gunman, fled afterward but was shot and killed three days later by a Seattle police officer following the largest manhunt in Washington state history.

Five others had been previously charged and sentenced to various terms, including the killer’s half-sister, La Tanya Clemmons, 35.  She was convicted of giving aid to Allen by helping him avoid police and currently is serving a five-year prison sentence.

The other defendants were Rickey Hinton (reaquitted of helping Clemmons escape), Quiana Williams (pled guilty to five counts of first-degree rendering criminal assistance and sentenced to five years in prison), Eddie Lee Davis (10 years, five months), Douglas Davis (seven years, six months) and Letrecia Nelson, who was sentenced to six years in prison.

Prosecutors ultimately charged Allen with four counts of aggravated first-degree murder, but Lindquist did not seek the death penalty against him.

The prosecution alleged that Allen drove Clemmons past the Forza coffee shop then waited nearby while the gunman committed the murders.

Prosecutors said Allen knew what Clemmons had been planning.  However in the trial, his defense team countered that he had been unaware of Clemmons’ intent to kill the officers.

At a commemorating the first anniversary of the shootings, Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar said it was unlikely he'd ever completely recover from the loss.

"I miss them every day," Farrar said at a ceremony dedicating a granite monument at police headquarters.  "There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of them."

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