Manslaughter is the verdict
By By JOHN DILMORE JR. Publisher
An Escambia County jury last week found Kenneth Wayne Allen guilty of manslaughter in the March 15 shooting death of Edward L. Bell outside Duckie's Bar and Grill in Brewton.
Allen, of East Brewton, had been charged with capital murder in the case, but after four days of testimony -- and often heated argument from prosecution and defense attorneys -- the jury found the defendant guilty of the lesser charge.
No sentencing hearing has yet been set in the case.
Bell, of Brewton, was shot and killed outside Duckie's Bar and Grill late on the evening of March 15.
According to police, he was found lying on the ground outside the nightclub with multiple gunshot wounds, and was later pronounced dead at D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital.
Shortly thereafter, police charged Allen with capital murder. Two other people -- Keisha Nicole Harrison and Miker Crook -- were also detained by police and charged with capital murder in the case. But those charges were later dropped, and Harrison wound up testifying for the prosecution this past week.
Whether Allen shot Bell was not in question during the trial. Allen himself acknowledged that he did. At the heart of arguments between the prosecution and defense were the circumstances of the shooting, and whether they amounted to murder, as the district attorney's office charged, or a killing in self defense, as Allen's attorneys contended.
The language both sides used to make their respective points was emotional and at times jarring.
Assistant district attorney Reo Kirkland, during his closing arguments, told that jury that they had to decide whether Allen's claims of self defense held water.
Kirkland was referring to Allen's own testimony that he had been struck twice by Bell, then retreated to his car, and only shot Bell when he came over and jerked open the car's door.
The prosecution also responded to the defense's attempt at several points during the trial to sow seeds of doubt about how Brewton police had handled the investigation of the case.
Defense attorney Paul Harden Sr. said early in his closing remarks, "I've got to talk bad about the police department here in Brewton. It was sloppy police work."
Then, returning to the theme of Allen's defense, Harden told the jurors that, "This is a self defense case. Kenneth fired that pistol when somebody was coming in the door at him."