Killer gets 20 years in prison for 2010 murder

A jury sentenced Gary Bernard Allen to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on November 2, 2012 after convicting him of Murder. The 42-year old Houston man was convicted for killing Shafin O'Keith Lark during an argument in May 2010.

November 9, 2012 12:44:27 PM PST
A jury sentenced Gary Bernard Allen to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on November 2, 2012 after convicting him of murder. The 42-year-old Houston man was convicted for killing Shafin O'Keith Lark during an argument in May 2010.

According to Assistant District Attorney Sherry Robinson, Allen came to the Missouri City home where Lark lived, became angry, and stabbed him in the head with an unknown object. The defendant fled the scene and remained at large for a month.

During almost two weeks of testimony, the facts revealed that Lark, Allen, Allen's girlfriend and others were all present at the home where Lark lived on May 8, 2010. Allen became angry, and while Lark was attempting to protect Allen's girlfriend from Allen's aggressive actions, Allen attacked and stabbed Lark in the head. While the victim lay dying in his own driveway, the defendant fled the scene with his girlfriend.

Houston Fire Department medical personnel arrived within minutes but were unable to save the victim -- who suffered a stab wound that penetrated his skull causing massive bleeding around his brain. Houston Police Department officers who arrived on the scene quickly tried to find the defendant, but only found his girlfriend, who claimed she dropped him off at a relative's house and did not know where he was.

Police issued a press release asking for information about Allen's whereabouts. Allen's employer even told authorities he heard from the defendant several times over the phone, but Allen never revealed his location. One month after the offense, after police obtained an arrest warrant, Allen surrendered himself to the Fort Bend County Jail. The murder weapon was never located.

"The defendant made multiple claims of self-defense, defense of a third person, and apparent danger to justify his actions," said Sarfin, "and the jury did an excellent job of considering and rejecting those defenses based upon the prosecution's evidence that this was a murder."

During the punishment phase of trial, the State provided further evidence of Allen's current felony probation in the same court for DWI with a Child Passenger. The prosecution also proved that the defendant had a previous probation out of Harris County for Robbery and numerous misdemeanor convictions.

"A wonderful family lost their son to a defendant who proved repeatedly throughout his adult life that he could not conform his behavior to the basic rules of human decency," said Robinson. "The jury's verdict can at least let Shafin's young son grow up in a safer world."

Allen was tried in the 434th District Court before Presiding Judge James H. Shoemake. Murder is a first-degree felony punishable from 5 to 99 years or life in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Under current laws, the defendant must serve at least one-half of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. Allen was not probation eligible.