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Allen found guilty of second-degree murder in firefighter death

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published January 30, 2014 at 10:28 a.m. Updated January 30, 2014 at 8:04 p.m.

bryce-allen-returns-to-court-thursday-afternoon

Bryce Allen returns to court Thursday afternoon.

8:00 p.m. update

Bryce Allen received a sentence of 70 total years, all the maximum amount allowed by law for each charge, after being found guilty on one count of second degree murder and two counts of second-degree criminal attempt to commit murder in a collision that killed a Jacksonville firefighter and injured another firefighter and a patrolman.

Allen will serve 30 years for the murder charge and a combined 40 years — two 20-year sentences — for the two attempted murder charges. The procedure for sentencing occurred immediately after the verdict was handed down.

The jury of six men and six women took just over an hour to decide on the sentence.

5:57 p.m. update

A jury has found a driver who fatally struck a Jacksonville firefighter with a van guilty of second-degree murder.

Bryce Allen, 49, was also found guilty on two counts of second-degree criminal attempt to commit murder for the March 19, 2012 collision, which killed Jacksonville Fire Department Capt. Donald Jones and injured fire engineer Jason Bowmaster and Jacksonville patrolman Daniel DiMatteo.

The jury deliberated for three hours.

Allen had pleaded insanity. His attorney argued during trial that his bipolar disorder impaired him such that he should not be held criminally responsible.

The jury will next consider Allen's sentence.

For more on this story, see Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

2:48 p.m. update

The jury has begun deliberations in the trial of a man accused of fatally striking a firefighter with his vehicle.

Jurors left the courtroom just after 2:45 p.m. Thursday after hearing closing arguments from both sides in the trial of 49-year-old Bryce Allen, who has pleaded insanity to charges of first-degree murder and two counts of criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder.

Allen drove his van into an accident scene on Arkansas 161 in Jacksonville after learning his mother's vehicle had wrecked there as she drove home from work the night of March 12, 2012. His vehicle struck two firefighters and a police officer, killing Jacksonville Fire Department Capt. Donald Jones and injuring fire engineer Jason Bowmaster and Jacksonville patrolman Daniel DiMatteo.

Prosecutors replayed police dash-cam of the video for the panel of six men and six women shortly before deliberations began.

"Folks, that's not an accident," prosecutor Melanie Martin said. "That's not the result of a manic episode. That's murder."

But defense attorney Cheryl Barnard countered that Allen's bipolar disorder is a severe mental disease that impaired him that night. She noted his recklessness could be seen as a symptom of his disorder, reminding jurors that a forensic psychologist earlier Thursday had testified Allen's condition meant he was not responsible for his actions.

"Does that mean he's psychotic all the time?" Barnard said. "No. It is a chronic disease he has and has had for 14 years."

11:57 a.m. update

The defense rested its case Thursday in the trial of a man accused of fatally striking a firefighter with his vehicle.

Jury instructions and closing arguments in the Bryce Allen trial are expected to be taken up beginning about 1 p.m. after a lunch break.

The defense rested just before 11:45 a.m. after a morning of testimony marked by psychologists offering different opinions on the man's mental disease.

Allen, 49, drove into an accident scene on Arkansas 161 in Jacksonville after learning his mother's vehicle had wrecked there as she drove home from work the night of March 12, 2012. His vehicle struck two firefighters and a police officer, killing Jacksonville Fire Department Capt. Donald Jones and injuring fire engineer Jason Bowmaster and Jacksonville patrolman Daniel DiMatteo.

Psychologist Dr. Michael Simon said during questioning by prosecutors Thursday that he evaluated Allen and found that he could recognize his criminal conduct. Simon added he did not see any signs that a manic episode had occurred when Allen drove into the accident scene.

But a forensic psychologist testifying as an expert for the defense later told jurors that Allen is "clearly mentally ill" with a chronic, severe form of bipolar disorder and is not responsible for his actions that night because of mental disease or defect.

Dr. John Fabian said there was no "rational motive" for Allen's actions other than his being impaired by mental illness.

"There's no other explanation for this offense unless it's just an accident," Fabian said.

Allen has pleaded insanity in the case.

Allen's mother, Thelma Allen, also took the stand Thursday, recounting the accident and saying she believed she saw signs of a manic episode in her son as he paced back and forth at the scene.

She also said her son has a history of manic episodes marked by symptoms including delusional behavior, talking to himself, restlessness, paranoia and believing he is "Jesus, the prophet."

Comments on: Allen found guilty of second-degree murder in firefighter death

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Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 total comments

TheBatt says... January 30, 2014 at 2:08 p.m.

"mental state" - what a joke. WE all could use that excuse for doing things we shouldn't. This fellow had one intent - he was going, no matter who or what got in his way. Unfortunately, this mindset ended the life of one, and changed the life of two others (and the families involved).

This man has a history of similar behavior. I pray for a conviction.

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rsl196601241345 says... January 30, 2014 at 4:14 p.m.

If he knew he was like this before this incident that proves his intent. Sad lawyers go along with this crap.

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NutButter says... January 30, 2014 at 7:53 p.m.

Allen's intent was pretty clear, and I suggest a lethal dose to prevent him from doing this again in the future.

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flipflop says... January 31, 2014 at 5:58 a.m.

Hope he enjoys his new lovers down at Cummins

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Capitalist12 says... January 31, 2014 at 9:19 a.m.

Unbelievable. This murderer can be out in 17 1/2 years? The lesson here is if you want to commit murder just use a vehicle; the punishment is far less than using a gun and just as deadly.

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