Convicted killer Margaret
Allen sentenced to death
By Greg Pallone - BayNews9.com
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
A medical examiner's report said the primary cause
of her death was homicidal violence and cocaine intoxication.
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
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
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
"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
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