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Judge appoints public defender for Allen

Paul Allen said he has little in the way of assets, only a watch and some property he owns with his mother, so a 2nd District judge Thursday appointed a public defender for the man charged with contracting to have his wife beaten to death.

Allen, 28, is being held without bail in the Davis County Jail. He is charged with capital murder and faces the death penalty in the Aug. 28, 1996, death of his wife, Jill.Judge Michael Allphin appointed Glen Cella as Allen's co-counsel and County Attorney Mel Wilson will announce in a few days which of Utah's small pool of death penalty-qualified attorneys will be named as his lead counsel.

Allen retained Ron Yengich as his attorney when police investigators began saying they believed he was responsible for his wife's death several months after her beating death.

Yengich appeared Thursday with Allen and indicated to Allphin he will continue to represent him until a lead attorney is named. He also indicated he is willing to take the case.

Allen said his assets are limited to a $6,000 watch and a partial interest in a building lot in Kamas, worth $18,000.

Davis County will have to appropriate funds to pay for Allen's defense, as it did when $80,000 was appropriated by the County Commission to pay for the defense of co-defendant George Albert Taylor, who investigators say is the man who was eventually paid $10,000 to kill Jill Allen.

Wilson said most of the $80,000 appropriated for Taylor's defense has been spent and estimated the county will have to pay another $80,000 to $100,000 initially for Paul Allen's defense.

"Death penalty cases are expensive burdens for a county," Wilson said. "There's the initial legal defense costs, which in Taylor's case have already eaten up most of the money the county paid out.

"But if you win a conviction, the appeal is automatic and the costs there go on year after year through the appeal process," said Wilson, noting this is the county's first death penalty case in a decade.

Allen is charged with capital murder, which carries the death penalty, in addition to conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and criminal solicitation, both first-degree felonies; and filing a false insurance claim, a second-degree felony.

Allen was arrested Saturday at his mother's home in West Valley City after detectives got a confession Friday night from another co-defendant, Joseph Wright.

Wright, according to court documents, confessed that Allen approached him about hiring someone to kill his wife. Wright talked to Taylor, a co-worker, and they designed a plan to kill her and make it appear she interrupted a burglary of her apartment.

After Taylor beat and strangled the victim, according to court documents, Wright collected the money from Allen and passed it along to Taylor.

Taylor also faces capital homicide charges but has confessed to his role in the slaying, according to prosecutors, and a plea bargain is being negotiated in return for his testimony.

A new hearing date for Allen will be set to determine bail after a lead attorney is named, Wilson said.

"I expect this one will go to trial," Wilson said of the charges against Allen.