Guilty verdict: Man gets life in prison for Fall Branch murder

Becky Campbell • Feb 7, 2013 at 4:47 PM

After a jury convicted James Henry Allen of first-degree murder in Washington County Criminal Court Thursday, he told the judge he didn’t see how that could have happened, given his view of the evidence.

“I don’t see how I was found guilty of premeditation. It seems things got off on the wrong foot from the git-go” at the sheriff’s office.

“I’m not a criminal. All I’s (sic) trying to do was do right thing,” Allen said.

He was convicted of killing 45-year-old Rick Carter, on May 12, 2010, at 175 Cherry Lane, the home of Allen’s ex-wife, Deborah Franklin.

Carter and Franklin began dating in December 2009, and he had moved into her mobile home, which was the residence Allen once shared with her.

According to trial testimony, Allen fired six shots through Franklin’s front door with a .22-caliber rifle. Only one round hit Carter, but it pierced a lung and perforated a subclavian vein, which led to him bleeding to death.

After hearing the verdict and expressing his disbelief, Allen also pointed out that he turned himself in to authorities two days after the shooting because “I thought I’d hurt somebody.” He also said he wished his defense had been presented differently to the jury.

Allen’s monologue was an unusual moment at the close of the trial because the jury was still in the courtroom when he spoke. Testimony had concluded Wednesday after two full days of trial. The panel deliberated a little more than an hour Thursday morning before delivering the verdict.

As Allen continued to talk, Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp cut him off, stating that the jury had, in fact, found him guilty of the premeditation so the judge imposed that decision.

Allen, 51, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. It’s unlikely that will ever happen because with a murder conviction, state law requires he serve 50 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole. Given the credit for the time he’s been in custody, Allen would be 99 years old by then.

Other than his comments, Allen showed no reaction to the verdict. He did turn and look at Carter’s family and Franklin as they hugged and smiled after the jury’s decision.

After the judge dismissed court, Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks said the case facts “seemed pretty obvious. The man laid in wait and planned what he did.”

“I’m glad the jury was able to evaluate the evidence and come back with a guilty verdict,” Brooks said.

Defense attorney Bill Francisco had no comment on the trial.

Prosecutors believe Allen became obsessed with his ex-wife and Carter to the point he went to her house that night, removed the outside light bulb and waited in the shadows with the rifle.

After Carter and Franklin discovered the light not working, Carter stood inside the door looking out the small door window while Franklin went to get a new bulb.

That’s when Allen fired the gun. Jurors also heard the 911 call and Franklin’s declaration that she believed Allen was the shooter.

It was an emotional moment for Carter’s family as they could hear him in the background moaning and mumbling. Carter was transported to Johnson City Medical Center, where he died later that night.

After the shooting, Allen hid in some nearby woods for two days. He was arrested after arranging his surrender through his youngest daughter, Jamie Allen.

The jury also found Allen guilty of possession of a prohibited weapon. That charged stemmed from the rifle being altered by not having a stock attached. Cupp sentenced him to one year on that conviction, but said it will run concurrent to the life sentence.

Defense attorneys have 30 days to file a motion for a new trial in the case.


Earlier report filed at 10:43 a.m. Thursday:

Update: A Washington County jury this morning found James Allen guilty of first-degree murder for gunning down his ex-wife's boyfriend at her Fall Branch home in 2010.

Judge Robert Cupp sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Allen must serve 50 years in prison before he's eligible for parole.

Keep visiting JohnsonCityPress.com for updates on this developing story.


Earlier report filed at 10 a.m. Thursday:

A Washington County jury began deliberating this morning in the case against a man accused of gunning down his ex-wife's boyfriend at her Fall Branch home nearly three years ago.

James Henry Allen, 51, is on trial this week on the murder charge as well as a charge of possession of a prohibited weapon. He’s accused of shooting Rick Carter, 45, through the door of Deborah Franklin’s home at 175 Cherry Lane, Fall Branch, on May 12, 2010.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys concluded closing arguments late Wednesday afternoon after three days of testimony, but jurors elected not to deliberate the charges that evening.

Judge Robert Cupp this morning released two alternates and sent the jury off to begin deliberating.

Keep visiting JohnsonCityPress.com for updates on this developing story.

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