By Linda Looney-Bond
Clayton County Superior Court Judge Deborah Benefield, Monday, sentenced a former Morehouse College student to two life terms in prison, plus 70 years, for the 2006 torture-murder of a fellow student.
The sentence came after a Clayton County jury, on Friday, found Miles Jonathan Allen, 24, guilty of participating in the beating, stomping and stabbing of Carlnell Walker, 23, at Walker's Riverdale home.
The jury also found that Allen bound, gagged, and doused Walker with a flammable liquid, then left him to die in the trunk of a car in his garage, where his body was discovered July 8, 2006.
Allen is the first of four co-defendants to be tried in the case. During the trial, prosecutors played a videotaped interview of Allen being questioned by police, in which Allen admitted to participating in the attack. He told police that the motive was "big money."
According to prosecutors, Walker had apparently bragged that he was expecting a settlement from a March 2006 automobile accident.
The jury convicted Allen on 11 of 12 counts in the case. He was acquitted on a charge of armed robbery.
For sentencing purposes, several of the charges were merged, according to Executive Assistant District Attorney Jason Green, who tried the case along with Assistant District Attorneys Katie Powers and Anece Baxter White.
Allen was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for a murder charge, life with the possibility of parole for kidnapping, 20 years, each, for two charges of aggravated assault, 10 years for false imprisonment, and 20 years for burglary, according to Green.
"After 25 years in the business, it's hard to say I've seen anything worse than what I've seen in this case," said Judge Benefield, just prior to pronouncing sentence. "It's also hard to say how you came to be a Morehouse student and commit such acts," she said. "I have not seen one bit of remorse from you," Benefield said to Allen.
During the sentencing hearing, Allen's mother, Rosalyn Allen, took the stand, and read a prepared statement. She told the court that she moved to Atlanta, from Virginia, after her son was arrested.
"I deeply regret the conduct of Miles during the crime against Carlnell Walker," Rosalyn Allen said. During the statement, she began to cry.
"My son did come to the police and admit to the police as to his involvement. I only ask that you show some mercy," she said. "I beg of you to give him a life-with-parole sentence. I apologize to the court and the Walker family," she said.
Wearing a gray suit, and chained at the ankles, Miles Allen also took the stand during the sentencing hearing. "I'd like to ask the Walker family to forgive me, and I pray that they can come to some peace now," he said. "I apologize for the pain and suffering ..." he said.
"I think the judge did the right thing," Green said, following sentencing. "It was the worst case that I can think of. I think it was a reasonable sentence and entirely appropriate."
"It sends a clear message to the community that vicious assaults on our fellow humans will not be tolerated," said Clayton District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson.
"We respect the jury's verdict, we respect the jury's sentence, but we disagree with it," said Herbert Adams, Allen's defense attorney.
"I had hoped she [Benefield] would give a sentence that was lighter, with respect to the consecutive life sentences," he said.
Judge Benefield told Allen that he has 30 days to file an appeal, if he wishes to do so.
"A new lawyer will be appointed to handle the appeal," Adams said.
Former Morehouse students, Keith Roberts and Breylon Garland, and another man, Theodore Holliman, are the remaining co-defendants in the case, and will be tried separately, according to the prosecution.
"The state anticipates that at least one more of the defendants will be tried before the end of the year," said Green.