Allen to Stand Trial with PD’s Office as Counsel

CLEARFIELD – A man who was found guilty of killing his wife in 1995 is set to begin a new trial in two weeks. After a ruling in Clearfield County Court Tuesday, he will be represented by the Clearfield County Public Defender’s office.

Jack E. Allen’s attorneys, Clearfield County Chief Public Defender Dan Bell and Clearfield County Public Defender Chris Pentz, had filed a motion to withdraw as his counsel, but Clearfield County President Judge Frederic J. Ammerman denied that motion.

Allen is charged with killing his wife, Theresa Allen, by shooting her in the back at Lawrence Park Village. He was found guilty of first-degree murder and other counts by a jury.

Bell told the judge that Allen had written to the Pennsylvania Superior Court Disciplinary Board regarding Bell and Pentz. Bell said this alone shows Allen’s lack of faith in the public defender’s office.

Allen sat at the defense table in the hearing room, handcuffed and wearing the orange jumpsuit of the Clearfield County Jail. He told Bell, “You (the public defender’s office) are incompetent to handle a murder case.”

Pentz is qualified to defend a client in a case that could be punishable by the death penalty.

Allen has been in CCJ since a court order was issued stating that he would be housed there through the trial.

Allen also told Ammerman that he had nine reasons that Pentz and Bell should not represent him. When asked, he only outlined seven: conflict of interest (Pentz assisted as standby counsel in previous court proceedings), undue influence, failure to communicate, failure to investigate the case, failure to file a defense, failure to file motions and incompetence.

Allen said he wanted his lawyers to file a motion for Ammerman to recuse himself from the case since he presided over a child custody case between Allen’s deceased wife, Theresa, and Allen. He also wanted to file a motion to ask that his trial be held in a different county.

“I feel that I won’t get a fair trial in this county,” Allen said. 

Allen’s five-day trial is set to begin Dec. 18 before Ammerman in Clearfield County.

Allen faces charges including first-degree murder and recklessly endangering another person.

In issuing his decision in the case Tuesday, Ammerman said, “We know that the defendant has the right to counsel, but you certainly don’t have the right to choose if you’re not paying for counsel.”

Allen has also complained to the Disciplinary Board of the Pennsylvania Superior Court regarding Bell and Pentz, something both attorneys said showed Allen’s dissatisfaction.

“I feel that, too, they will not represent me in a way that I would represent myself,” Allen told the judge.

Allen also claimed his lawyers intended to “present a defense that is not a defense but would make me think it is a defense.” Ammerman reminded Allen and his counsel that Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. was present and information on Allen’s defense might not be appropriate to discuss in front of him.

“The way I want to present my case, I don’t think they can do it,” Allen said.

Shaw said, “I don’t think that whoever sits in the defense attorney position is going to satisfy Mr. Allen.”

In Allen’s last trial he represented himself with the public defender’s office acting as standby counsel.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court remanded the case to Clearfield County after an appeal found that Allen was not properly questioned in waiving his right to an attorney in the previous trial.

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