No retrial for sister of cop-killer Maurice Clemmons

LaTanya Clemmons, whose convictions for helping her cop-killer brother’s getaway driver were overturned by an appeals court, won’t be retried.

Pierce County prosecutors late last month dismissed with prejudice the two counts of rendering criminal assistance they originally filed against her in December 2009. Dismissing the counts with prejudice means prosecutors cannot re-file them.

The move came after the Washington Supreme Court refused to accept an appeal filed by prosecutors after a state appellate court threw out Clemmons’ convictions last year.

The state’s high court issued its decision Dec. 5. Prosecutors filed the dismissal, which was signed by trial Judge Stephanie Arend, on Dec. 31.

“LaTanya is presently out of state, but she will be trying to get her life back after this sad and tragic case,” attorney Helen Whitener, who represented Clemmons at trial, said this week. “It is sad that she lost everything for the actions of her mentally ill brother and other family members. She is still trying to get her life back and is presently unemployed when prior to this case she held three jobs.”

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist expressed disappointment in the outcome of the case.

“We believed we had a good argument and a good case to take up to the Supreme Court,” Lindquist said Wednesday.

In 2010, a Pierce County jury found Clemmons guilty of helping her brother’s getaway driver following the massacre of four Lakewood police officers at a Parkland coffee shop. She was sentenced to five years in prison but was released in July after having served two years.

Maurice Clemmons gunned down Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Gregory Richards and Ronald Owens on Nov. 29, 2009. Maurice Clemmons later was killed by a Seattle police officer during a manhut.

Prosecutors contended LaTanya Clemmons provided aid to Dorcus Allen, who later was convicted of driving Maurice Clemmons to and from the scene of the massacre. They alleged she knew he was wanted for murder when she drove him to a Federal Way motel and gave him money to buy a bus ticket that would have taken him out of state.

Whitener argued at trial her client did not know Allen was involved in the massacre at the time she helped him.

LaTanya Clemmons appealed her convictions, and, on a 2-1 vote, the Court of Appeals for Division II in June threw them out. Justices David Armstrong and Joel Penoyar ruled prosecutors hadn’t proven that Clemmons specifically knew Allen was being sought as an accomplice to murder when she aided him.

“The evidence does not show that Allen ever told LaTanya or her relatives that he knew Maurice intended to kill the police officers and helped or offered help in committing the murders,” the opinion stated.

Justice Christine Quinn-Brintnall dissented, saying LaTanya Clemmons did not need to know legal specifics to be guilty of rendering assistance to Allen. It was enough that she knew Allen had been with her brother the morning of the killings and that police were looking for Maurice Clemmons and anyone who might have aided him, Quinn-Brintnall said.