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This article was updated at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4. An explanation appears below.
By LINDSAY RENNER
For the third time, a Bladensburg man was sentenced Tuesday for the 2001 stabbing of a Port Tobacco man.
In November, Jeffrey Edward Allen, 51, was found guilty of first-degree murder for stabbing 32-year-old John Butler 19 times following a tryst between the two men the previous evening in October 2001. Circuit Judge Robert C. Nalley sentenced Allen to life with the possibility of parole. Allen has been serving time at Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup for second-degree murder and robbery since the original conviction in 2002.
The original two convictions for first-degree murder were overturned in appellate court on the basis of jury instruction error on Nalley’s part.
“When I came into my office this morning one of the first things that caught my eye ... was a copy of [Truman Capote’s novel] ‘In Cold Blood,’” Charles County Assistant State’s Attorney John Stackhouse said Tuesday. “That stood out because ... that’s what this murder was. There is no question that the evidence shows that this was a vicious and violent murder.”
Stackhouse pointed to assertions by Allen’s defense attorney, Janet Hart, that Allen thought Butler had a knife, as well. By Allen’s own admission, Stackhouse said, that was not the case, and he admitted as much in his confession. In statements to Lt. Michael Almassy, Stackhouse said, Allen also admitted that he originally was not concerned with calling the police but rather with getting back to Bladensburg.
“[Allen] was trying to get out of there,” Stackhouse said. “There were 19 stab wounds on Butler, and slash wounds on his hands. He was fighting for his life ... and Jeffrey Allen made sure he was dead before he left out of there. It’s just chilling.”
Butler’s mother, Mary Butler, and twin sister, Joan Edelen, addressed Nalley.
“This is very hard for me, going through this,” Edelen said. “[Allen] did the crime, so he needs to do the time. He took my brother away from me, and I suffer every day.”
“This time it’s much harder for me,” Mary Butler said. “It’s so hard for me to see [Allen’s] face. He had not a mark on him. [John Butler] had nothing in his hands, and Allen knows that. I hope that this is the last time I have to come to this trial because it’s really doing something to me. Mr. Allen, I’m so sorry. You did this to my son, but I feel sorry for you. I couldn’t do you that way. I couldn’t even stab you once. You know you’ve done wrong. If you could bring my son back you know you’d be OK, but you can’t. I can’t see my son, and your parents can see you. I have to go to the graveyard if I want to talk to my son. I know he’ll never be back. Please, just let my son rest in peace.”
“The natural order of life is not for a mother to bury her son,” Stackhouse said. “They deserve justice, and so does this community.”
In conversation with her client, Hart said, Allen has been exceedingly apologetic. Hart said Allen has struggled with drug addiction for much of his life, but since his incarceration has been “determined to refrain from drug use” and has done so.
“In virtually every conversation ... it is abundantly clear he is a spiritual and religious person,” Hart said. “He holds those principles quite dear to himself ... and speaks of how they guide him.”
Moving forward, Hart said, Allen wants to work with children to show them that there is a better path available and also said he has corresponded with different churches through a pen-pal program.
“He feels deeply that he lived a largely unproductive life prior to incarceration, and he is determined to do otherwise,” Hart said.
Allen himself then turned to address the family members gathered in the courtroom.
“I know that there are no words to express what I did,” Allen said, apologizing to the family. “I told the truth. All I can say now is my continued pursuit to this point has been of the truth. I can’t deny I did it.”
Even after all this time, Nalley said he still is mystified by the turn of events that led to Allen’s actions.
“For the life of me I still don’t understand why this happened. Accepting at face value the gist of the accounts I don’t get how or why,” Nalley said. “This man wasn’t just stabbed, he was stabbed repeatedly ... and there was not a mark on you. Three juries now have been satisfied that there was no rhyme, reason or justification. I grant that you were ... frustrated and angry ... but what you’re saying is Butler died for that.”
This article was updated to correct the name of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant who worked the case in 2001 and whose testimony Charles County Assistant State’s Attorney John Stackhouse referred to during this trial. The officer was Lt. Michael Almassy.