Emotional Testimony Dominates Allen Sentencing Trial
Posted November 15, 2006 1:17 p.m. EST
Updated November 15, 2006 9:03 p.m. EST
The Raleigh courtroom where Ezavia Allen, 20, has been on trial for the death of Shirley Newkirk was packed with friends and family members of both the victim and the defendant. Most everyone in the room was in tears when Newkirk's children read statements about how they missed their mother.
Newkirk, 63, was killed 10 weeks before one of her daughters' wedding, her daughter said during the sentencing phase of Allen's trial. Erica Newkirk Williams also talked about the close relationship she had with her mother and how Newkirk was supposed to be the special guest at a bridal shower at her daughter's work the same day she was killed.
"Can you imagine how heartbroken I was when the invitations had to be reprinted so they could read 'the late Shirley Newkirk' instead of 'Mr. and Mrs. George Newkirk?'" Williams said.
Allen was convicted on Tuesday of first-degree murder and several other charges in connection with Newkirk's death. He could get life in prison or the death penalty.
Prosecutors argued that Allen shot Newkirk in the early morning hours of April 28, 2005, during a robbery spree, but the defense maintained Allen fired the gun when he was startled by Newkirk's car horn and that he never aimed at her.
Newkirk was getting ready to meet a friend for a morning walk when she was shot through her car window from less than 5 feet away. She managed to crawl into her house but never reached her husband for help, authorities said. She bled to death in the house where she lived for 25 years.
"There were so many things we should have done together," Newkirk's other daughter, Keshia Newkirk Bailey, said before breaking down on the witness stand. "She should have been at Erica's wedding last year. She should have enjoyed retirement with my father and been able to travel with him, as well as spend time with me. I feel so sad for my father when we go out to eat or out of town. He looks so sad when he looks at other couples."
Allen's older sister, Akeada Allen, testified on her brother's behalf describing the tight bond they shared as a result of a childhood filled with drugs, crime and mayhem. In opening arguments earlier this month, Allen's attorney, Mike Klinkosum, described Allen as a high school dropout who grew up in an environment of drugs, alcohol and prostitution.
"I miss him. I miss him a lot," she said. "I love him. I love him so much. Like I said, he was my friend and brother. I just can't imagine how much everyone is hurting."
Several of Allen's grade-school teachers described Allen as a class clown and a sweet young man. They knew he came from a difficult environment, they said, and knew he needed direction.
"We always see kids come in on the fence that can go one way or the other," said Allen's former teacher, Donna Cash. "It just hurt my feelings deeply inside that he had fallen on the wrong side."
Jurors are expected to begin deliberating Allen's sentence after two more defense witnesses testify Thursday.
Two other men, Marvin Johnson and Cameron Morris, are also charged in connection with Newkirk's death. Their trial dates have not been set.