A Layton man convicted Thursday night of shooting his wife in the head a week after they were married last summer will be sentenced for aggravated assault March 14 in 2nd District Court.
A jury deliberated just under two hours, returning a guilty verdict at 8 p.m. Thursday against Donald R. Allen, 31, 388 E. 2625 North, Layton.Allen testified that on the evening of July 23, 1988, he was trying to wrestle a .44-caliber revolver away from his wife, Gwen. The gun went off accidentally, Allen testified.
He also told the jury he didn't see a wound on his wife and didn't think she'd been hit by the bullet.
Gwen Allen was shot in the head just in front of her right ear, medical experts testified, with the bullet splitting into numerous fragments. One fragment exited her right cheek adjacent to her nose, several others lodged under her eye, and one penetrated her skull, the fragment and bone splinters lacerating her brain.
Allen testified his wife was conscious but "a little dingy" after the gun went off and suffering from a nosebleed. He took her inside the house, he said, and washed her off in their shower to remove the blood and try to sober her up.
Gwen Allen testified Wednesday she had been drinking beer most of the afternoon prior to the shooting and was depressed about her alcoholism and a court date on a driving while intoxicated charge that she had skipped.
She told the jury she vaguely remembers picking up a gun in the couple's pickup truck, parked in their driveway, and struggling with it with her husband. She doesn't remember the shooting or much about the week afterward, she said.
Allen and his family kept the woman at home through the next week, taking her to a Layton hospital a week after the shooting when her condition deteriorated. She was transferred to McKay-Dee Hospital, Ogden, for surgery to remove the bullet and bone fragments from her brain.
Gwen Allen testified she was conscious and able to get around during the first few days after the shooting and said she didn't realize she was wounded, thinking she was groggy and her head hurt because of a bad hangover from her drinking binge on July 23.
Allen was initially charged with attempted homicide, a second-degree felony, but the charge was reduced at his preliminary hearing to aggravated assault, a third-degree felony that carries a prison term of up to five years.
In his closing argument Thursday, prosecutor Carvel Harward said Allen would be guilty of aggravated assault even if the gun had not gone off. Simply threatening his wife and pointing the gun in her direction constitutes aggravated assault under Utah law, Harward said.
Harward said Allen displayed a pattern of deception by Allen after the shooting.
Defense attorney Steve Vanderlinden argued that no crime was committed. Allen was trying to wrestle the gun away from his wife to save her, not shoot her, he said.
The gun discharged accidentally, he said. Vanderlinden said Don and Gwen Allen were happily married, still on their honeymoon, and the prosecution offered no reason or motive for the shooting.