By BOB PALMER
Jimplecute News Editor
The jury that told Judge Dean Fowler they were deadlocked finally returned a verdict late Friday, finding Amber Long guilty of manslaughter in the death of Amy Allen, 54, on Aug. 21, 2017. Long was sentenced to eight years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Judge Fowler gave the jury the choice in his charge of finding Long guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter or not guilty. About mid-afternoon, the jury reported to Fowler they could not reach a verdict. They said they were divided nine to three.
Fowler, presiding at his first murder trial since becoming district judge in January, gave the jury what is known as the “Allen charge” or “dynamite charge” asking them to return to the jury room and attempt to reach a verdict.
Jurors were asked to “not do violence to your conscience,” but recognize that another set of jurors would have to sit through a new trial if they could not reach a verdict. Defense attorney Bryan Owens was satisfied with the results.
“I am very pleased,” Owens told the Jimplecute. Owens said he had harbored hopes for a not guilty verdict. “She (Long) was on her land,” Owens said. “Her (Long’s) daughter said Amy (Allen) threw first punch.”
District Attorney Angela Smoak emphasized to the jury, however, the wound Allen suffered to her head from a metal bar wielded by Long. “At some point,” Owens said, “the fight changed in the minds of the jurors from Long defending herself. It was no longer self-defense.”
INSIDE JURY ROOM
One juror told the Jimplecute the atmosphere in the jury room became intense. “We were hung 9-3, but everyone was determined to get a unanimous verdict,” the juror, who requested anonymity, said.
“It did get pretty heated,” the juror continued, “but I guess that can happen when you try to get everyone to agree on the same thing. The sentencing phase was just as difficult. We were at both ends of the range of punishment, but eventually came together.”
Long and Allen lived less than 200 yards from each other on Storie Road off US 59. Each had an animal rescue operation on their property. Long had originally assisted Allen’s animal rescue efforts, Rebel Rescue Ranch, but acquired adjoining property less than a year before the fatal fight. Since the separation, officers were called several times for trespassing disputes between the two women.
In Texas three charges are possible in a homicide – capital murder, murder and manslaughter. Circumstances can increase or lessen the severity of the penalties for murder and manslaughter which can carry a penalty of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Only a charge of capital murder can bring the death sentence. Long still faces charges from a fight with another inmate of the Marion County Jail. With credit for the 18-months served here, Owens said Long would be eligible for parole in two years on the manslaughter conviction.
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