SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Convicted killer Paul Allen was back in court with a new effort to overturn his conviction in 2000.
A jury found him guilty of hiring someone to murder his wife Jill in 1996. Allen was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
George Taylor was also convicted of murder. He killed Jill Allen but was hired to do so by Paul Allen. A third person, Joey Wright, was sentenced to prison for attempted murder. Both Taylor and Wright testified against Allen during his trial.
Previous appeals by Allen with the higher courts were rejected. But he is again seeking to prove his innocence through a factual innocence claim.
On Wednesday, Oct. 26, a Davis County district judge held a hearing to listen to so-called new evidence presented by Allen’s attorney. They are counting on testimony from former or current inmates that were housed with George Taylor.
In his opening statement, Allen’s attorney said those inmates who will be testifying know an innocent man is sitting in prison.
“Why would they come forward?” asked Doug Mortensen, Allen’s attorney. “They wanted the truth to come out. One of them told me ‘I’m not doing this for Paul Allen. I’m doing it for Jill Allen.’”
In 1996, Jill Allen was found brutally beaten to death at the couple’s North Salt Lake apartment.
Beau Heaps, who was convicted of murder, testified on behalf of Allen.
“[Taylor] definitely told me that it was a home invasion gone bad and that Paul Allen had absolutely nothing to do with the murder of Jill,” Heaps said. “And I remember thinking ‘wow that was pretty bad to push this crime on somebody who was innocent.'”
According to a second witness, Joey Wright was a bookie and hired Taylor to help with a personal favor. He recalled the conversation he had with Taylor.
“[Wright] hated Paul Allen, and he contracted George Taylor to dispel his gambling debt and that gambling debt was for killing Ms. Allen,” Paul Mead said.
During cross-examination, attorneys for the state made it known that Mead killed his own wife.
Wright was actually charged with attempted murder and served time in prison.
Taylor is also expected to testify this week, and the state’s attorney representing Taylor said none of this is true.
“He has not told anybody that his testimony has changed,” said Erin Riley, deputy Attorney General. “In fact, Paul Allen approached him at the prison and tried to get Mr. Taylor to change his testimony. In fact, offered him a lot of money to change his testimony.”
Jill Allen’s family was also in attendance. Her mother said she was not swayed by the testimony heard Wednesday.
“They’ve all come up with more lies,” said Andrea Myler. “We’ve known for the last 26 years that Paul’s guilty. He was guilty of this.”
The judge will not issue a ruling at the conclusion of the three-day hearing. Once he does, the ruling can go three different ways. He could deny the evidence as being “new.” He could also rule there is merit to the statements and order a new trial. Or, in the instance of a factual innocence claim, the judge can issue a ruling that exonerates Paul Allen.