exposing the dark side of adoption
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Allens plan to ask for no jail time

By Lisa Chmelecki,Staff Writer

AUBURN - Dozens of people are expected to speak today at the sentencing hearing for Sarah and Jeremy Allen. Many of them have already sent letters to Justice Ellen Gorman, pleading with her to keep the Lisbon Falls couple out of prison.

Convicted of manslaughter for killing her 21-month-old son, Sarah Allen could be sentenced to up to 40 years behind bars.

The state has recommended she serve eight years, followed by a period of probation, Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese said Thursday.

Sarah Allen's lawyer, Verne Paradie, plans to ask for no jail time by arguing that the former hair stylist is not a threat to the public, that she does not need rehabilitation, and that it is unlikely others will be deterred by her sentence from committing the same act.

"All of the evidence shows, and the state agreed, that Sarah was a loving, gentle, caring mother with no history of violence," Paradie said Thursday.

Sarah Allen was charged with manslaughter two years ago after her adopted son, Nathaniel, died of severe head and neck injuries.

The state proved to a jury earlier this month that she caused the boy's injuries by violently shaking or jerking him.

The mother has maintained her innocence all along. She claims the boy died as a result of a pre-existing neurological disorder.

Sarah Allen's husband, Jeremy, will also be sentenced Friday for assaulting his son on Feb. 13, 2004, one day before the boy died.

Jeremy Allen was charged after his son was rushed to the hospital for the head injury, and an emergency room nurse discovered red and purple bruises on the boy's buttocks and upper thigh.

The father admitted from the start that he used a wooden spoon to discipline his son, but he claimed they were mild spankings.

Corporal punishment is lawful in Maine as long as the pain is "transient" and any marks are temporary, but a jury decided last September that Nathaniel Allen's injuries did not fall in that category.

Because Nathaniel was younger than 6, Jeremy Allen's conviction is a felony conviction, and it could land him in prison for up to five years. The conviction has caused Allen to lose his job as a deputy public affairs officer for the Navy.

In his case, the state plans to ask for a sentence of three years with all but one year suspended, followed by probation.

His lawyer, George Hess, also plans to ask for no jail time. He believes probation is sufficient, given that Allen has no criminal history.

The couple is currently free on bail. If either is sentenced to prison or jail time, he or she could be taken into custody after the sentencing hearing.

Both Paradie and Hess plan to ask Justice Gorman to allow the Allens to remain free until after the Maine Supreme Judicial Court considers their appeals.

2005 Mar 25