David Allen (Jail photo)
GATESVILLE (October 17, 2013)--A group of scientists and investigators was set to appear in a Gatesville courtroom Friday to be qualified as expert witnesses in the pending capital murder trial of a former local preacher who is charged with capital murder in connection with the arson death of his former wife.
David K. Allen, 51, is set for trial on Nov. 18, charged with capital murder in the March 22, 2011 death of Paula Allen, 54, who was found dead inside the couple's mobile home after a fire that investigators said was intentionally set.
Coryell County District Attorney Dustin Boyd said the purpose of the Friday hearing is to qualify several scientists and investigators who are expected to appear at the trial to provide expert testimony.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys will ask 52nd District Judge Trent Farrell to rule on the admissibility of each prospective witness’ testimony as expert testimony in an effort to save time at trial.
Attorneys from the West Texas Regional Public Defenders for Capital Cases, based in Lubbock, are defending Allen.
Expert witnesses must qualify themselves as "expert" in the field they practice to be considered un-impeachable by the court and if they are not pre-qualified, those qualifications must be presented during trial.
Boyd said most of the witnesses who will appear Friday are fire experts who will testify about the fire itself and will provide testimony as to whether the fire was intentionally set or accidental.
Other witnesses called for qualification include investigators and law enforcement officers.
Boyd said the Friday hearing likely would last all day.
Allen remains in the Coryell County Jail in lieu of $700,000 bond.
He was indicted in February 2012, accused of setting the fire deliberately, using a flammable accelerant.
Paula Allen, 54, was found dead just inside the front door of a mobile home behind the New Life Church of Restoration just east of Gatesville.
An initial autopsy report showed Paula Allen died of smoke inhalation and thermal burns.
David Allen was able to escape the flames that morning, but said he was overcome by smoke as he tried to rescue his wife.
He reported he was asleep in the living room and his wife was asleep in a bedroom when the fire broke out just after 1 a.m. on March 22, 2011.
Coryell County Justice of the Peace Coy Latham said earlier Allen reported that he awoke to the flames, jumped out of a living room window and ran around the mobile home to try to save his wife, who he said was in a back bedroom.
Gatesville Fire Chief Billy Vaden said firefighters tried to get into the back of the mobile home to find the woman, but the roof caved in before they could make entry.
David Allen did not require medical attention.
David Allen's current wife, Megan Lynn Allen, 28, has been indicted for perjury in connection with the case.
Allen was released from the Coryell County Jail after she posted a $50,000 bond.
Boyd said Megan Allen was charged in connection with perjured testimony about her relationship with David Allen prior to November 2010.