Derrick Allen, freed in high-profile case, is back in jail

Freed in 2010, he faces a range of charges

acurliss@newsobserver.comAugust 15, 2012 

Derrick Allen, who was freed from a Durham jail two years ago in a high-profile murder case dismissal, is back behind bars.

Allen, 33, was arrested in Asheboro this month on felony charges of cocaine possession and of possession with the intent to sell or distribute cocaine. Allen was also charged with a misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon, a .357 Magnum handgun, according to police and court records.

His arrest followed a traffic stop in Asheboro on Aug. 4, records show.

On Wednesday, he was transferred to the Durham jail.

Allen could not be reached. Two lawyers who have represented him declined to comment.

The charges in Asheboro were only the latest in what court and police records, as well as interviews, indicate was a flurry of alleged crimes involving Allen this year.

“It’s like he went crazy,” said Robert White of Durham, an acquaintance who alleges that Allen fired shots at him in late July.

Allen had spent almost all of his adult life in prison following his arrest in 1998 on charges of murder and sexual abuse in the death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter.

Facing the death penalty, Allen pleaded guilty under a provision in the law in which he did not admit guilt, known as an Alford plea, and was sentenced to more than 40 years in prison by then-Superior Court Judge Leon Stanback. Stanback is now the district attorney.

Allen immediately began trying to undo his plea. His effort wound through the courts, and the state Court of Appeals eventually granted him the right to have a trial.

As Allen awaited trial in the summer of 2010, an audit ordered by Attorney General Roy Cooper into the State Bureau of Investigation’s blood work cast doubt on the Allen murder case, among others across the state.

Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson freed Allen that summer then dismissed the charges after a two-day hearing in December 2010.

Hudson’s ruling was described as “shocking” by Tracey Cline, then the district attorney, who would later allege that the Allen case dismissal was the beginning of a “corrupt” smear campaign by Hudson against her. Three judges dismissed her allegations, and Cline was removed from office this year over attacks she brought against Hudson in lengthy court filings.

Hudson said in an interview Tuesday that he was unaware of the pending charges against Allen and said it’s “unfortunate.”

The judge said the latest arrest does not affect his decision dismissing the murder and sexual abuse charges. His order was based on findings of wrongdoing by the SBI and prosecution in the 1998 case; it said that Allen couldn’t get a fair trial.

Prosecutors are appealing Hudson’s ruling, and the state Court of Appeals is expected to issue an opinion soon.

Accused of firing shots

Allen sprinted from the courtroom the day in December 2010 that Hudson erased the charges against him. He said he didn’t want to be in the newspapers ever again. The News & Observer has covered his case since 1998.

He had sat through most of his court hearings alone, evidence of a broken and scattered family that had largely disowned him and his mother, a housekeeper, over the murder case.

After he was freed, Allen said in brief interviews over the ensuing months that he had difficulty finding a job because of the past criminal charges. He was not eligible for state help because his charges were dismissed, meaning he wasn’t on probation or parole, his lawyer said.

At one point, Allen said he started taking classes at Durham Technical Community College. He fathered a child. He eventually got a job moving furniture, he said.

Then, in January, Allen was charged with three misdemeanors, including breaking and entering, in Durham. He was found guilty of the charges in District Court in late July, and is appealing.

That case involves a domestic dispute in which Allen, after an argument, allegedly hit a woman once in the face and then again on her right side. He left, and the woman tried to run over him with her car. He returned the next day and broke in through a sliding door to retrieve his belongings, the woman said in a complaint.

In between the January charges and the July conviction, records show, Allen was charged with six other crimes involving four other alleged victims. In court papers, he listed two different addresses in Chapel Hill as his home.

One incident was an alleged assault on a female, a misdemeanor, on June 24 in Orange County. Court records say Allen assaulted a woman by “pushing her with his hands and arms.” Prosecutors later dismissed the charge, reserving the right to re-file it later.

Then, on July 31, Allen allegedly shot at White after the two saw each other just north of downtown Durham.

“He jumped out of a car, shooting. It was five or six shots,” White said in an interview. “I ran. Glad I wasn’t hit.”

Allen was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, a felony.

White said that Allen had pointed a gun at him a month earlier and accused him of having a relationship with a woman. White said he had no idea what Allen was talking about and does not know the woman.

Around that same time, Terrence Williams of Durham alleged Allen had threatened to shoot him, leading to a charge of communicating threats.

Williams could not be reached.

Stopped in Asheboro

Two weeks ago, according to a police report, an Asheboro police cruiser pulled in behind a silver Ford Freestyle registered to and driven by Allen in downtown Asheboro.

The officer, J.S. Moore, described unusual behavior, including a momentary stop in the middle of an intersection. The officer ran the license plate, and it came back that Allen was wanted in Durham on the assault with a deadly weapon charge involving White.

The officer said he turned around and began looking for the car. “As I came past the vehicle, the driver leaned out the window and waved at me,” the officer wrote in a report.

The officer stopped the vehicle in front of a funeral home. Police seized the handgun and 14 grams, or a half-ounce, of crack cocaine. Allen was arrested.

Allen listed no permanent address and no job in police records. He was held in Asheboro until Wednesday, when he was taken to the Durham jail at midday and booked. He is being held in lieu of $125,000 bail, according to jailers and court officials in Asheboro and Durham.

Curliss: 919-829-4840

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