Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

Allen enters plea in assault charges


Havre Daily News/Tim Leeds

Brian Allen, left, and his attorney, Daniel Minnis, listen Tuesday during a plea hearing in District Court in Havre.

A Havre man entered a special plea Tuesday to accusations he had beaten a man with a pistol and the pistol had gone off, breaking the back window of a car parked in a residential neighborhood.

The case had been sent back to District Court in Havre by the Montana Supreme Court.

Brian H. Allen, born in 1972, entered Alford pleas to three charges under a plea agreement.

"It was a bad night. I know negative things happened, " Allen told Judge David Ortley before entering his plea. "I know I was guilty of something. The jury found me guilty. "

Under an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit to committing a crime, and Allen asserted his innocence, but admitted the prosecution would likely win the case if it went to trial.

The recommendations in the plea agreement are for Allen to be sentenced to 30 years in the Montana State Prison, with 22 suspended, for each count, to run at the same time with each other and with a federal sentence he now is serving.

Allen was charged with four counts of assault with a weapon and a count of criminal endangerment, all felonies, after he was accused of cutting a man's hand at some point between Christmas 2007 and New Year's Day 2008, and, on Jan. 27, 2008, striking the same man with a gun, while trying to collect a $250 debt, during which the gun discharged, and threatening the driver of the vehicle in which the alleged action occurred. A felony count of intimidation later was added, alleging Allen had made additional threats to the driver.

The first count was severed to be tried separately, and, after a two-day trial in October 2008, a jury convicted Allen of two counts of assault with a weapon and the count of criminal endangerment.

The jury acquitted Allen of the charges related to the driver of the vehicle.

Judge David Rice sentenced Allen to 30 years as a persistent felony offender on each count, with each sentence to run at the same time.

The Hill County Attorney's Office dismissed the first charge, removing the need for another trial.

Allen, after the first trial, pleaded guilty in federal court to possessing a firearm while a felon, stemming from accusations and evidence from the same incident.

He was convicted in 2001 to felony theft in Colorado, which prohibited him from having a firearm. He was sentenced in federal court in August 2009 to 51 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for the possession of a firearm.

Allen told Ortley Tuesday that he was taking prescription pain medication at the time of the alleged incident, and does not have a clear recollection of what occurred.

At one point, he said that if a gun had indeed discharged and broken out the back window of the vehicle in a residential neighborhood, it created endangerment.

"And I emphasize the if, " he said.

Allen said he doubted, with the evidence available, that he would be acquitted if the case again went to trial. The plea agreement will give him a chance to get out and watch his children grow up, he said.

"That's why I made my decision, plain and simple, " Allen said.


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