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Margaret Ann ALLEN





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Torture - Theft accusation
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: February 8, 2005
Date of arrest: 3 days after
Date of birth: January 23, 1966
Victim profile: Wenda Wright, 39 (her friend and housekeeper)
Method of murder: Strangulation with a belt
Location: Brevard County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on May 19, 2011

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Margaret A. Allen was sentenced to death in Brevard County on May 19, 2011.  Her crime was the torture and killing of her housekeeper, Wenda Wright, whom Allen suspected of stealing from her.  According to the prosecutors, she tortured Wenda Wright for hours before strangling her with a belt.  Margaret Allen received help from her roommate, James Martin, and her nephew, Quinton Allen, to bury the victim in a shallow grave. The two were also convicted for their part.


Margaret A. Allen

DC# 162180

BF, born 1/23/66, was sentenced to death from Brevard County on May 19, 2011 for torturing and killing her housekeeper, Wenda Wright, whom she thought had stolen money from her purse. The jury unanimously voted for the death penalty for her. She also got a life sentence for kidnapping. Prosecutors said the torture went on for hours before Wright was strangled with a belt. Allen's roommate, James Martin, and nephew, Quinton Allen, were both convicted for their part in helping her try to bury the body in a shallow grave.


Convicted killer Margaret Allen sentenced to death

By Greg Pallone -

May 19, 2011

A Brevard County convicted killer has become the third woman on Florida's death row.

Margaret Allen, 45, was convicted last September of killing and torturing the housekeeper in 2005 who accused her of stealing $2,000. She was sentenced to death Thursday morning.

She along with Quinton Allen, her nephew, are accused of beating and strangling Wenda Wright with a belt, then burying the body in a shallow grave in the northern part of the county.

Quinton testified against his aunt and through a plea deal will serve 15 years behind bars.

In earlier testimony, a medical examiner described the nearly dozen blows to Wright's face and body, and the belt tightened so severely around her neck she lost consciousness.

The defense tried to spare Allen from the death penalty. They brought a neurologist in to testify claiming she suffers from brain damage due to previous assaults in her past and because of her condition could not plan a murder scheme.

Two other women are currently on death row in the state of Florida.

Tiffany Cole, convicted in 2008 in Duval County of killing a Jacksonville couple and burying them alive. And Emilia Carr was just convicted in February in Marion County for kidnapping and murder then burying the victim in a shallow grave.


Margaret Allen: Judge to decide life or death for Titusville friend, mother?

May 15, 2011

The 1989 photograph shows 22-year-old Margaret Ann Allen holding her newborn girl, happy and proud as only a new mother can be.

Allen and her daughter, Alvinia, were featured on the front page of FLORIDA TODAY, the birth celebrated as the first in Brevard County that year.

"I had just what I wanted both times. I said I wanted a boy and a girl," Allen was quoted in the article, referring to her baby and her 16-month-old son, Carlos.

On Thursday, Allen will be the subject of much greater, and much different, media attention as Circuit Judge George Maxwell decides whether the 45-year-old Titusville woman should be sentenced to death for the slaying of friend Wenda Wright in 2005.

A jury found her guilty of murder and kidnapping in September, and all 12 jurors unanimously
recommended she get the death penalty.

If the judge agrees, Allen would become the third woman on Florida's death row. Only two women have been executed in the state in the past 100 years.

Behind Allen's journey from a happy mother to possible death row inmate lies a wrenching life story of growing up in one of Titusville's most crime-infested neighborhoods, a mostly absent father and violent boyfriends, according to relatives.

Her dad spent time in jail, and two of her siblings are in prison.

The baby in the photo, Alvinia, now 22, and Carlos, 23, are in prison on gun and drug charges, respectively. Alvinia Ragoo is scheduled to be released in 2014, Carlos Ragoo in 2021.

She has another younger daughter who lives in Titusville.

"Some people get out, some people do not," said Myrtle Hudson, Allen's aunt, talking about the relentless cycle of crime and drugs that enveloped the Allen family.

Prosecutors contend that Allen's crime deserves nothing less than death: She poured bleach and other cosmetics on Wright's face as she tried to find out how $2,000 had gone missing. She tried to strangle her with a belt until she lost bladder control and urinated. And she buried Wright's body in north Brevard with the help of two acquaintances.

"With 10 or so blows to the face, arm, chest, knees and a belt tightened around Wenda Wright's neck so tight that the blood flow to her brain stops, that is terror," Assistant State Attorney Russ Bausch said during Allen's trial in September. "This is the terror that Wenda Wright experienced during the last few minutes of her life. No one should die like that."

'Wanted a dad'

Allen's mother, Alvinia Strozier, who lives in Titusville, used to work as an assembler at the former McDonnell Douglas Space Systems plant in Brevard.

Allen was enrolled in Titusville schools, but relatives are not sure whether she graduated high school. Brevard Public Schools officials did not find a graduation record.

Later, Allen worked for a janitorial service, records show.

"Her dad, William Allen, was in trouble a lot," said Hudson, who is Allen's maternal aunt. "She always wanted a dad."

But William Allen, now in his early 60s, wasn't around. Relatives said he now lives in DeLand.

"The last time I saw him, it seemed he weighed only 120 pounds or less," Hudson said.

Margaret Allen started attracting attention from Titusville police about 1988.

Almost every year since, she has faced serious criminal charges, the accusations mapping a life of alleged felonious behavior: Beatings with injuries, the possession and use of firearms including a short-barreled gun, an attack on a pregnant woman, missiles thrown into houses, sale of cocaine and tampering with evidence.

Despite Allen's numerous brushes with the law, she was convicted of only a few drug-related offenses. She was charged with attempted first-degree murder in 1991, but was found guilty of aggravated battery and battery in that instance.

2 brothers in prison

In addition to two of Allen's three children currently serving time in prison, two of her three brothers, James Strozier and Dave Strozier, are in prison.

One, serving a 20-month sentence for cocaine possession and fleeing and eluding, is scheduled to be released this year. The other is scheduled for release in 2036, serving 35 years for grand theft, burglary and aggravated battery with deadly weapon.

Tara Posley, who is Allen's first cousin, wondered if Allen ever had a chance to escape the rampant crime in her neighborhood, around Robbins Avenue in Titusville.

"They shoot guns, they smoke drugs. It is pretty depressing," Posley said. "It is considered the ghetto."

Posley, a certified nursing assistant, said she was in trouble herself, some of it related to writing bad checks and grand theft.

"I kept looking at my kids. And I said no. I want to give them a chance to live," Posley said.

As for Allen, there was violence all around her.

Relatives said a boyfriend beat her unconscious and put her in the trunk of a car in the mid-1990s.

Allen, they said, could be capable of showing incredible kindness, even to strangers. As evidence, they point to Quintin Allen, no relation, who is in prison for the Wright slaying as well.

"She took Quintin off the streets," Hudson said. "She did anything for anybody."

But it was Quintin Allen who testified against her in September, telling the court how he held Wright down as Allen choked her with a belt. He said Allen had threatened to shoot him to get him to comply.

"She began to shake and after about three minutes, she did not move anymore," he said, describing what likely were the last few minutes of Wright's life.

Quintin Allen accepted a plea offer of second-degree murder and is scheduled to be released from prison in 2019.

Wright's body in hole

During the September trial, Quintin Allen described how he saw Allen kill Wright.

He also described how the hole dug for Wright's 300-pound body near a dirt road off State Road 46 wasn't big enough.

James Martin, an acquaintance, then jumped on a piece of plywood to force the body into the hole.

Martin was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of accessory to first-degree murder.

At the trial, defense attorney Frank Bankowitz concentrated on discrepancies between what Quintin Allen originally told detectives and what he said later in court.

He pointed out that Wright's autopsy listed cocaine intoxication as one of the causes of death. Later, when the 12 jurors were deciding whether to recommend life or death, he said Allen acted the way she did because she suffered from brain damage and is not able to control her emotions.

"My client has brain damage, there is no question about it," Bankowitz said.

All through the trial, Allen's family sat behind her, sometimes telling her to "stay strong" as she left the courtroom each day.

Another constant was Johnny Dublin, Wright's common-law husband, with whom she had two sons. During a hearing in December, Dublin was asked by a prosecutor if Allen should be given the death penalty.

"I'm not recommending anything because it is not my decision to make," Dublin said.

It was at the same hearing that Allen herself pleaded for a life sentence.

"I just feel like I shouldn't have to get the death penalty for something I didn't do," Allen said.

She declined FLORIDA TODAY requests for an interview.

Success stories

John Lau, Titusville's assistant police chief, said Allen's neighborhood on Robbins Avenue and some surrounding streets are a high crime area, but there are many success stories, as well.

"To us, it seems Margaret Allen made poor choices throughout her life," he said. "It was also a family problem, it is what she had as a role model."

Outdoor drug sales continue to be a problem in the area, Lau said.

The Rev. Glenn Dames, who heads the North Brevard NAACP, said crime in the area is a reality, but not the only reality.

"There are people who live there and make their children accountable," Dames said.

Posley, Allen's first cousin, found the challenge of living in the neighborhood overwhelming. She's moved across town to what she describes as a quiet neighborhood.

"I was trying to save my children from the streets," Posley said.


Margaret Allen pleads for her life

December 17, 2010

VIERA -- The spectator gallery at the courtroom was packed. On Circuit Court Judge George Maxwell's right sat Wenda Wright's family and a pack of reporters. On his left sat friends and relatives of Margaret Allen, the Titusville woman who was convicted of strangling Wright in 2005 over a missing purse containing about $2,000.

About half an hour into the hearing Thursday morning, Allen took the stand dressed in a gray prison jumpsuit.

Thursday's proceedings are referred to as a Spencer hearing in Florida, a last chance to make a case for a defendant's life as the judge decides whether to impose the death penalty.

Allen was found guilty of first-degree felony murder in September. A few days later, a 12-member jury unanimously recommended the death penalty for the 44-year-old woman. Judge Maxwell is expected to decide Allen's sentence after Feb. 15, when memoranda about the case are due from the prosecution and the defense.

At Thursday's hearing, Allen said she was sorry and sobbed loudly. At one point, Maxwell ordered a short recess because Allen appeared distraught.

"I just feel like I shouldn't have to get the death penalty for something I didn't do," she said as defense attorney Frank Bankowitz questioned her.

According to court testimony, Allen beat and strangled Wright, who was her friend and housekeeper, and poured chemicals on her face. She then buried her in north Brevard with the help of two men, both of whom testified against her during the September trial.

Wright was 39 when she died.

Allen was not the only one crying Thursday.

Even as she spoke and pleaded for her life, Allen's family members were seen leaving the courtroom in tears.

"I feel death is the easy way out," said Tara Posley, Allen's first cousin, and added that a life sentence would have a greater impact on her.

If Allen gets death, she will become the second woman on Florida's death row besides Tiffany Cole of Duval County.

Relatives spoke of Allen growing up amid crime and drugs in Titusville and being beaten by the men in her life.

Prosecutor Russ Bausch asked Allen if she felt sorry.

"I always felt sorry," she said.

Bausch asked if she felt sorry when she buried Wright in the dirt by State Road 46 in north Brevard.

"No I didn't because I didn't do that," she replied.

Bankowitz, who represents Allen, said cocaine intoxication also was listed as a cause of Wright's death and suggested that she might have been able to survive the traumatic attack if there were no drugs in her system.

Minutes later, Wright's common-law husband, Johnny Dublin, addressed the court. It was a day filled with tears for Dublin, who sobbed steadily all morning while watching from the spectator gallery.

When questioned by Bausch, he spoke about his loss and the difficulty of bringing up their two sons after Wright's death.

"It is very hard raising the boys by myself," he said.

Turning toward Allen, he said: "I am angry . . . but I forgive you for what happened."

When asked if Allen should be given the death penalty: "I'm not recommending anything because it is not my decision to make," Dublin said.

Diane Baxter, Wright's sister-in-law, said Dublin never recovered from the trauma of the murder.

"Look at him," she said.

Thursday's hearing lasted about two hours. Allen was led away soon afterward. As Allen's family members started to leave, some stopped to hug and console Dublin as he sat in his wheelchair.

He was still sobbing.


Titusville woman may meet death row

September 12, 2010

The state thinks 44-year-old Margaret Allen deserves to die for her role in the 2005 torture and murder of an acquaintance she thought stole her purse and $2,000.

Prosecutors will pursue a conviction for first-degree premeditated murder and kidnapping, saying the Titusville woman hit Wenda Wright, 39, again and again -- then poured bleach, nail-polish remover and ammonia over her face and choked her with a belt.

Allen's trial is scheduled to begin as early as Monday, with jury selection. A guilty verdict could send Allen to death row, where she'd be one of only two women currently facing execution, compared with 390 men.

Although female death-row inmates are rare, their executions are even rarer.

Experts say the system doesn't favor women: They just commit fewer crimes that make them eligible.

"You have to commit an aggravated murder," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C.

He said women commit about 10 percent of murders in the country, but only about 1 percent of those executed are women.

Women rarely kill a stranger, or torture and kill someone, Dieter said.

"They have only had 11 executions of women since 1976. It is a rare phenomenon."

According to the Florida Department of Corrections, two women have been executed in the state, including suspected serial killer Aileen Wuornos -- the subject of the 2003 movie "Monster," starring Charlize Theron.

Sixteen women have been sentenced to death in Florida, dating back to 1926, according to the department, but 13 of the original sentences were commuted.

Nationwide, there are 61 women facing execution, making up less than 2 percent of the total death row population.

Theft accusation

Wright was reported missing on Feb. 8, 2005, and Titusville police began their investigation.

Two days later, two people not involved with the crime went to the police department and told officers Wright had been murdered.

Then Quinton Allen, Margaret's nephew who is now 24, came forward and told police Wright was killed in his presence.

Police served a search warrant at Margaret Allen's house, 415 S. Robbins Ave., where the murder allegedly occurred. She and James Martin, now 60, were arrested.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys declined to discuss the Allen case with FLORIDA TODAY, but court and police documents paint a grisly picture.

Allen's purse was missing and she suspected Wright, her housekeeper, who kept denying she had taken it.

At some point during the confrontation, according to documents, Allen started hitting Wright: "Quinton Allen said he was directed to help hold the victim, while Margaret Allen used a cloth belt to bind the victim's legs, and then he was instructed to hold the victim's hands and keep her from getting up . . ."

Police said he feared for his safety because his aunt was carrying a semi-automatic handgun.

Allen then put her knee on the victim's neck and started pouring the bleach and other chemicals on Wright's face.

"The victim was gagging on the chemicals, crying and begging for her life," the documents said.

Margaret tried to put adhesive on her mouth but "the tape would not stick due to the chemicals," Quinton Allen said during a prior hearing.

Wright stopped moving. She was unconscious, Margaret Allen told her nephew, according to records. A day later, she picked up Quinton Allen and told him he would have to help dispose of the body.

A medical examiner's report said the primary cause of her death was homicidal violence and cocaine intoxication.

Shallow grave

According to reports, Margaret Allen, her nephew and Martin had trouble getting rid of Wright's body, which weighed more than 300 pounds. They buried it in a shallow grave near State Road 46 in North Brevard.

"Quinton Allen took us to the scene and the grave was located," a police report said.

Quinton Allen pleaded to a second-degree murder charge and is expected to be released from prison in 2019, while Martin pleaded to a charge of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and served about five years. He was released in October 2009, but is back in jail on a violation of probation charge.

Both received reduced charges and sentences for agreeing to testify against Margaret Allen, whom police believe was the ring leader in the Wright slaying.

She had been convicted of numerous felony charges before the homicide, including possession and sale of drugs and aggravated assault.

In 1991, she faced a charge of first-degree murder, but was found guilty of battery and aggravated battery. Records on that case weren't available.


Police: Housekeeper Tortured Over Missing Money

Household Chemicals, Bleach Reportedly Poured Down Woman's Throat

February 12, 2005

A housekeeper in Brevard County, Fla., had household chemicals, including bleach, poured down her throat, was strangled and then buried in a shallow grave over some missing money, according to authorities.

Titusville police received information Friday that a body was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere off state Road 46. When investigators began questioning people, they learned that Wenda Wright, who was a housekeeper for Margaret Allen at 415 South Robbins Avenue had allegedly been killed in the house and transported to some nearby woods.

"Chemicals were poured into her mouth, duct tape was placed over her mouth, so this was not a fast death. It was a torturous death unfortunately," Titusville police spokesman Warren Van Buren said.

Allen, 39, reportedly told investigators that she killed Wright because she thought Wright had stolen her purse containing $2,000. When Wright would not admit to taking the purse, Allen reportedly became enraged and started beating Wright.

Police said Allen's son, Quintin, 19, helped hold the woman down as Margaret Allen allegedly poured chemicals down her throat. Margaret Allen and son then allegedly strangled her with a belt, according to the report.

After questioning Quintin Allen, he reportedly revealed to police the approximate location of Wright's body.

James Martin, 50, was also arrested and charged with accessory after the fact. It is believed that Martin helped bring Wright's body out to a remote area. All three were arrested and transported to the Brevard County Jail. Margaret Allen and Quintin Allen are both charged with first-degree murder and false imprisonment.



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