A former Hollidaysburg-area man has lost another round of appeals from a life sentence imposed more than three years ago for the strangulation death of a popular 19-year-old Penn State Altoona student
Margo "Maggie" Elizabeth Davis' body was found in the trunk of her car on March 3, 2010. The vehicle was in the parking lot of an apartment complex within 500 feet of the townhouse where the convicted killer, Sean Louis Allen, now 24, lived with his father.
Allen, convicted of both first- and second-degree murder in September 2010, is serving concurrent life sentences at the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy.
He initially contested the conduct of his trial, but the Pennsylvania Superior rejected his arguments for a new trial.
In 2012, Allen obtained the services of Harrisburg attorney Joshua D. Lock, who contended the trial attorneys were ineffective because they did not object to inflammatory photographs showed to the jury.
Lock also said Allen's trial attorneys didn't object to other statements heard by the jury from a state police investigator who said pornographic materials were found in Allen's bedroom or to references to Allen's religion.
A three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court rejected the defense arguments that Allen was entitled to a new trial because of ineffectiveness of his lawyers.
The panel, including Judges Mary J. Bowes, Cheryl Allen and John L. Musmanno, based its decision almost entirely on the opinion written in the case by Blair County Judge Timothy M. Sullivan, who presided over the Allen trial.
During the trial, the prosecutors, District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio and then Assistant District Attorney Wade Kagarise, submitted photographs to the jury showing the young woman's body in the trunk of her car, as well as autopsy photos.
Sullivan called the photos "graphic," but he found they helped the jurors, selected in York County and brought to Blair for the trial, understand what occurred.
The prosecution had to prove that Allen had an intent to kill Davis and had to show he was attempting to rape her as she died.
The photos were permitted because they "allowed the jurors to observe for themselves the physical
/sexual injuries to the victim," Sullivan wrote in his opinion issued last June.
Another subject brought up by the defense was a text message that Allen sent to Davis in which he referred to himself as a "super Jew."
This reference to Allen's religion was unnecessary, according to the defense argument, but Sullivan in his opinion took the position Allen's self-characterization was an attempt to entice Davis to have sex with him, which the prosecution contended was Allen's reason for texting Davis in the early morning of March 3, telling her how to get to his house.
When Davis received the text from Allen, she wrote him back, "You're really dumb. ... You're really annoying me."
"We find that such reference was sexual in nature, and not a religious reference," Sullivan stated in his opinion.
The Superior Court panel with respect to both the photos and references to the text found the issues did not have merit, and the panel in its opinion concluded, "We agree and adopt the sound reasoning of the PCRA [post conviction] court for the purpose of this appeal."
The defense also objected to the statements that pornographic DVDs were found in Allen's bedroom.
Lock argued the evidence wasn't relevant and tended to depict Allen as a person of "bad character."
The Superior Court found this issue had no merit.
Allen can now request a review by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The prosecution argued during the trial that the killing of Davis was intentional, noting that after arriving at Allen's home, she was struck on the head with a Maglite.
The jury found the killing was intentional and found Allen guilty of first-degree murder. It also found that Davis died as Allen was attempting to rape her. A killing during the commission of a felony led to Allen's conviction on then second-degree murder charge.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.