- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A Bladensburg man is standing trial a third time for a 2001 murder.
On Oct. 23 of that year, the defendant, Jeffrey Edward Allen, now 51, met the victim, John Butler, 32, during a night out in Washington, D.C., at an area at 5th and H streets known as “The Stroll” that homosexual men frequent. Butler took Allen back to his Port Tobacco home, where the two had consensual sex and fell asleep, according to Charles County Assistant State's Attorney John Stackhouse's opening statement during the trial Monday.
The next morning, Stackhouse said, a confrontation between the two men turned deadly. Allen stabbed Butler 19 times before stealing Butler's car, which he crashed at the intersection of routes 6 and 425. A Nanjemoy man, Walter Carter, found Allen bloody and shirtless on the side of the road and took him to the Ironsides Store, where Allen called police.
Twice now, a life sentence for the first-degree murder charge imposed by the jury has been overturned by the Court of Special Appeals. The other charges he was found guilty of, second-degree murder and robbery, still stand.
Following the first trial in 2002, the first-degree murder charge was overturned because of Judge Robert C. Nalley's error in jury instructions. The case was retried in 2008, and Allen was convicted once more. That conviction was overturned in 2010 on another jury instruction error.
Stackhouse warned Monday's jury that the testimony to unfold would get graphic, but that it was the only way to do justice for Butler.
“[Butler was] completely naked with multiple stab wounds” when police arrived at his home that morning 12 years ago, Stackhouse said. He also alluded to upcoming testimony from Charles County Sheriff's Office Cpl. John Burroughs that would say the officer “saw blood literally dripping down the walls” of Butler's home.
Before stabbing Butler, Stackhouse said, Allen had tried to talk the victim into giving him a ride back to the District and was told to just “chill out” and have a beer. Stackhouse said then, by Allen's own admission, he said he was going to “drive this [expletive] out of here” with Butler's keys in hand. Butler then allegedly came at Allen menacingly, and the two fought, Allen with a knife in hand. In the living room, after dropping the knife, Allen regained control and began stabbing.
Allen's defense attorney, Janet Hart, characterized his actions as not being taken out of malice but fear.
“He continued to swing the knife out of fear,” Hart said in her opening statement. Hart also said Allen cooperated fully with the investigation at every stage, and he was a man reliant on Butler.
“[Allen] needed him to drive that stick shift and because [Butler] knew where they were,” Hart said.
Hart said there was “no reason and no motive” for Allen to murder Butler.
Speaking on Monday evening, Charles County State's Attorney Anthony B. Covington (D) said the state's reasons for seeking a conviction a third time are relatively straightforward.
“Wouldn't you want someone who's been found guilty by 24 different people to be convicted?” Covington asked, noting that the appeals do not speak to Allen's guilt but rather procedural matters. “They can appeal until the cows come home, and that's what they're doing. We don't quit that easily, and I don't think the citizens of Charles County want us to.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the case still was being heard and was expected to continue into Wednesday.
An earlier version of this article quoted Charles County State's Attorney Anthony B. Covington as saying, “We can appeal until the cows come home.” Covington said, “They can appeal until the cows come home.”