Convicted killer’s appeal rejected
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has denied further hearing into an appeal by Sean Louis Allen, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole for the 2009 death of a Penn State Altoona student.
The body of Margo “Maggie” Davis, 19, was found on March 4, 2009, in the trunk of her car parked in the lot of an apartment complex just a few hundred feet from the townhouse where Allen lived with his father.
Police charged Allen within a few days after reading incriminating text messages Allen sent to Davis around the time of her death and after a search of his bedroom turned up a large flashlight believed to be the murder weapon and bloody clothing.
A jury, selected in York County, found Allen guilty of first- and second-degree murder, determining the killing was both intentional and committed during the commission of rape.
The case has been on appeal since Allen was sentenced to concurrent life sentences in December 2010.
Blair County Judge Timothy M. Sullivan upheld the jury’s findings.
On March 18, the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the verdict, finding that Allen’s trial attorneys were effective in their representation.
Allen’s attorney, Joshua D. Lock of Harrisburg, in April asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review the Superior Court’s decision.
The Supreme Court issued a one-sentence order on Tuesday, stating, “the petition for allowance of appeal is denied.”
Attempts to reach Lock were not successful.
Allen has a year to file with the state additional reasons for a new trial, or he could seek a federal review of the case if there appears to be violations of his constitutional rights.
One of the main issues surrounding the trial was the introduction of photographs showing the victim’s body.
The defense contended that prosecutors could have introduced “less gruesome” photos to show what occurred the night of March 3 and early on March 4 at the Allen townhouse near Hollidaysburg.
The defense contended the prejudicial value of the photos outweighed whatever value that may have had as evidence.
Sullivan explained that he permitted the photos into the case to help the jury understand the testimony from forensic pathologist Dr. Harry Kamerow, who performed the autopsy.
The photos, the judge found, were valuable in helping the jury determine if the killing was intentional.
The Superior Court adopted Sullivan’s reasoning in the case.
The defense also contended that the introduction of a text message in which Allen referred to his religion – calling himself “Super Jew” – created prejudice, but Sullivan said the reference by Allen was used in the context of attempting to convince the victim to have sex with him.
Her return text was introduced into the trial in which she referred to the comment by stating, “You’re really dumb. … You’re really annoying me.”
The Superior Court panel in March issued a short, five-page opinion dismissing the defense complaints.
The Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio summed up his feelings about the Allen case, stating, “The trial was a good trial, a clean trial. Nothing I could think of that would be a question about the trial.
“I would think we could put it (the case) to rest,” he said.