A man convicted of hiring two construction workers to kill his wife says he is a victim of religious discrimination by Utah's justice system.

Acting as his own attorney, Paul Allen has filed a second appeal with the Utah Supreme Court, saying his trial was unfair, jurors were biased and he was subjected to a justice system biased because of religion.

Allen was convicted by a jury in Davis County in 2000 of aggravated murder in the death of his wife, Jill Allen. Jill Allen's severely beaten body was found in a blood-spattered hallway of the couple's North Salt Lake apartment in August 1996.

Prosecutors said Allen, who worked as a salesman for a cell phone company, used customer credit card numbers to make more than $4,500 in purchases. At trial, they said Allen used the proceeds to pay George Anthony Taylor and Joseph Wright to kill his wife. Prosecutors said the motive was a $250,000 life insurance policy.

Taylor and Wright, who were also sentenced to prison, testified against Allen, saying that Allen forwarded cash and the key to the couple's North Salt Lake apartment for the murder. The two men also testified that they had made several botched attempts to kill Jill Allen, but in August 1996, Taylor used the apartment key and waited for Jill Allen to come home. At the time, Allen said, he was on a trip with his brother.

Taylor had planned to shoot Jill Allen, but police say she put up a fight. Taylor resorted to using a baseball bat and a leather belt to kill her.

Allen appealed his conviction to the Utah Supreme Court, saying the evidence of credit card fraud was hardly evidence for murder. He also argued through his attorney that a mistrial should have been granted because a witness mentioned in front of the jury that Allen had refused to take a lie detector test and that a juror had told other jurors that a mistrial had been requested.

In February 2005, the Supreme Court justices found no evidence for a mistrial and upheld Allen's conviction.

This time around, Allen, acting without an attorney, filed a second appeal with the court, arguing that the entire justice system is biased.

Reading more like an indictment on Utah's courts than an appeal on his conviction, Allen cites "discrimination based upon religious affiliation."

From the Utah State Bar to the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission and the Utah Supreme Court itself, Allen says the courts are ruled by a "theocracy" by those who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Utah judges are generally bound by their code of judicial conduct. In Utah, the vast majority of judges are also bound by their religious affiliation." Allen, however, offers no evidence to support his claims.

In its reply filed with the Supreme Court, the Utah Attorney General's Office doesn't bother to address Allen's religious discrimination claims. The state does note that Allen's brief doesn't even address the fact that the Supreme Court rejected his first appeal.

The state's high court has agreed to hear Allen's claims. Justices are scheduled to review the appeal next week, but without oral arguments. Court rules preclude pro-se inmates from arguing their own cases before the court.

E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com