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Convicted of hiring a hit man to kill wife, Paul Allen maintains innocence

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Eighteen years after being convicted of ordering the murder of his wife,  Paul  Allen maintains his innocence.

He was convicted of hiring two people to have Jill Allen murdered and sentenced to life in prison.
In 2000, prosecutors told a jury that he did it to collect on a life insurance
policy and to prevent a messy divorce.

“I can finally prove it,” Allen said from prison. “We’ve spent years trying to retrieve information and obtain the evidence to prove my innocence.”

Allen has appealed his case for a new trial but at every level, it’s been rejected repeatedly.
It all began on August 28th, 1996.  He arrived at his apartment in North Salt Lake and found the front door open.  He walked in and found his wife on the floor.
He called 911.

Dispatch: “911 emergency”
Paul Allen: “My wife, something’s wrong with here.”

He thought she was still alive as he continued to talk to the dispatcher.

Dispatch: “Does she have any prior heart conditions?”
Allen: “No.  She’s all bloody.”
Dispatch:  “She’s all bloody?”
Allen:  “Yeah.”
Dispatch: “Did you see any blood, any wounds on her?”
Allen: “Huh?”
Dispatch:  “Are there any cut marks on her?”
Allen:  “I don’t know.  I haven’t looked.”

He asked that an ambulance be sent to his apartment.   Allen continued to move her body as he searched for wounds.  He found something on the back of her head and broke down while talking to 911.

Allen:  “No!  No!  No!”
Dispatch:  “Tell him to calm down, ok?  Tell him to calm down.”
Friend:  “Calm down!  Calm down! Calm down.”

24-year old Jill Allen died from blunt force trauma to the head and body.   Inside the bedroom was a baseball bat just a few feet from her body.  It was one of the weapons used to kill her.  Police video showed the bedroom to be in disarray.  The bed was overturned, drawers were pulled out and blood was everywhere.

For months, police investigated but there were no leads, no arrests.  During that time Paul Allen was brought in for routine questioning.  ABC4 News obtained video copies of police talking with him.

Paul Allen:  “I don’t like coming out here. I’m just getting sick of it, you know because nobody tells me much and if I do hear something, I get the run around.  I’m just trying to …. I want answers. I’m not getting answers and it’s making me mad.”

But a year after Jill Allen’s murder, a suspect was taken into custody.   His name was Joey Wright, a known criminal in North Salt Lake.  He had a history of burglaries.  During the police investigation Wright appeared defiant with authorities.

Joey Wright:  “I haven’t done anything.  I swear to God I haven’t done anything.”

Another man was brought in for questioning, George Anthony Taylor.
By now police had a theory.  A detective from Salt Lake City, Don Bell questioned Wright.  Bell was there to help North Salt Lake investigate the case.

Don Bell:  “But this somebody decided that they didn’t want their wife being around anymore.  And so instead of being a standup person, this person decided to reach out and find other people to do their dirty work for them.

During their investigation, police learned of a life insurance policy for Jill.  And they also noticed it had been raised from $10,000 to $250,000 dollar.

Police pushed both Wright and Taylor.  They believed they’d been hired to kill Allen’s wife.  Bell even reminded Taylor of the consequences of Allen’s murder.

Don Bell:  “That’s what capital murder is. It doesn’t get any bigger than that.  Any time you hire somebody to commit murder, it’s capital murder.”

Eventually both men confessed that Paul Allen hired them.  Wright claimed he was the middleman and organized Taylor to murder Jill Allen.   Both accept plea deals and get reduced sentences.

In 2000, their testimony helped convict Allen.  He was sentenced to life in prison.

“I was sickened,” said Allen as he spoke to ABC4 News.  “It was the hardest thing to  be, I had confidence in the system and my attorney kept giving me all the confidence in the world telling me everything was going great.”

Allen has spent 18-years behind bars.  But from the outset, Allen set out to prove his innocence.

Both the appeals court and the Utah supreme court denied his appeals.  But Allen acted as his own attorney and the appeals were denied on technical issues.

But now Allen and family members claimed they’ve discovered new evidence.  Among their so-called new evidence: 
— A breakdown of Allen’s credit card and cash receipts.  During the trail they claim prosecutors told the jury Allen spent $12,000 prior to the murder but couldn’t produce documentation as to how it was spent.
— New details about the gun used in the murder.  Prosecutors said the gun Taylor used to hit Jill over the head was purchased prior to the murder.  They now claimed it was bought about three years earlier.
— Jill Allen’s wedding ring: Taylor claimed he took it as part of the payment.  But in court documents, Allen’s defense claimed police found it in a drawer but never told the jury about the discovery.
— And details about the key to Allen’s apartment.  During the trial, prosecutors claimed Allen had a key made two days before the murder and gave it to Taylor.  They now claim they have evidence that showed that key was made for Allen’s mother and her apartment.
— And they also have an affidavit from one of those jurors who now has a different opinion about the case.  In the affidavit he wrote “this information (jurors) were seeking would have changed my verdict of guilt/innocence.  It was very likely that I would have found Paul Allen innocent of all charges.”

“But they didn’t hear the majority of the evidence,”  Allen said.  “I was wrongfully charged and convicted in Feb. of 2000.”

Allen also has a new well known criminal defense attorney, Greg Skordas.

“The law states that once you’ve learned about that evidence, you need to look back at that case and say ‘could the jury have made a different decision had they had that available at the time’ and in this case we believe they clearly would have,” Skordas said.

Allen hopes this new information will open the eyes of a judge.

“I really owe this to my wife Jill, to prove to her family what truly occurred when she was murdered and that i was not involved in this crime in any way,” said Allen.

In part two of Justice Files Friday,  the road to clearing his name took a detour when he hired his first attorney.  That attorney is now under investigation.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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