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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Supreme Court Weighs New Trial For Accomplice In Lakewood Police Shootings

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network

The getaway driver in the murders of four Lakewood, Washington police officers is seeking a new trial. The case has made it to the Washington Supreme Court and Tuesday the justices heard arguments.

Dorcus Allen was convicted and sentenced to 420 years in prison as an accomplice to Maurice Clemmons. Clemmons was the Arkansas parolee who murdered the four officers in a coffee shop the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2009. Clemmons was later shot and killed by a Seattle police officer.

Prosecutors went after Allen who drove the getaway truck. But Allen’s attorney Gregory Link told the Supreme Court his client did not get a fair trial. One issue is that some of those attending the trial wore t-shirts commemorating the four officers.

“I think the t-shirt issue is particularly important to address,” Link said. “We’re not supposed to deliver messages from the gallery. That’s not what spectators are there for. That’s what not the right to a public trial guarantees.”

The lawyer for the prosecution countered there’s no evidence the jurors could even see the t-shirts. Allen also argues he deserves a new trial because of misstatements by the prosecutor during closing arguments.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."