Man accused in friend’s hatchet killing tried to cover up crime, charging documents say


Claude Alexander Allen III (AP)
May 28, 2013

A Gaithersburg man accused of killing a friend with a hatchet stuffed the man’s body into a large trash can as part of an attempted coverup, according to charging documents made public Tuesday.

Claude A. Allen III, the son of a former top White House aide, also gave police at least three versions of what happened late last week, one of which involved him attacking his friend after an argument over drug sales, according to the charging documents.

Allen, 20, made his first appearance in court Tuesday, appearing via video monitor from a Montgomery County jail, where he is being held without bond. When District Court Judge Patricia Mitchell asked whether he had received the charging documents, he replied, “Yes, ma’am.”

Allen’s attorney, Richard Finci, declined to seek bond for his client but said he might in the future. After the court proceedings, Finci declined to discuss specifics of the case and said his office was trying to “find out exactly” what happened.

“We have a lot of work to do to investigate this case on behalf of our client,” Finci added.

It wasn’t immediately clear how or why the trash can was used. Allen may have used it to drag the body to a wooded area behind his house, law enforcement officials said.

The charging documents, which state the probable cause by which detectives charged Allen with first-degree murder, offered other details from the early stages of the investigation.

At 12:09 a.m. Friday, according the documents, 911 operators received a call from Allen stating that a man had broken into his house and that Allen had killed him with a hatchet. Officers who responded found the floor of the garage “covered” in blood. Allen spoke to the officers, telling them that the victim was in a wooded area behind the house. The officers “followed a trail of footprints” to the body of the victim, who eventually was identified as Michael P. Harvey, 25, according to police and the charging documents.

Police learned that Allen lived in the home with his parents. Allen’s father, Claude A. Allen II, had served as President George W. Bush’s senior domestic policy adviser but resigned in 2006 shortly before pleading guilty to theft. Montgomery police had accused Claude Allen II of purchasing more than $5,000 in items from Target and Hecht’s stores, taking the items to his car, returning to the store, selecting the same items and seeking a refund with the receipts. He and his wife were not home at the time of Harvey’s death.

Early in the investigation, detectives learned that there had been a third man inside the house at the time of the killing, because this man called 911 after running from the house. The witness cooperated with police, according to charging documents, and gave this account:

All three men were in the house. The witness, who was identified only as “Witness 1” in court papers, said that at some point, when he was in the kitchen, Claude Allen III appeared from the garage area with blood on his hands. Allen said he had just “got the person” who had been trying to rob the residence and that the alleged robber was in the garage.

The two went into the garage, where the witness saw the victim with a wound to the back of his neck, according to the charging documents. “Witness 1 stated the defendant requested his help with getting rid of the body. Witness 1, fearing for his safety, assisted the defendant with placing the victim’s body into a trash can,” detectives wrote in the charging documents. “The defendant proceeded to go to the basement of the residence, at which time, Witness 1 ran out of the residence and fled.”

At the scene Friday morning, detectives could be seen wrapping paper around a large trash can, suggesting that it would be used as evidence.

In the charging documents, detectives said they interviewed Claude Allen III.

Allen at first said that the victim, whom he identified as “Mickey,” attacked him with the hatchet before Allen wrestled it away and cut him, according to the charging documents. Then Allen said he got into an argument with Mickey over drug sales. “The defendant stated he produced his hatchet and slashed the victim several times, causing the victim’s death,” detectives wrote. “The defendant also acknowledged the victim did not have any weapons.”

Friends and family members of Harvey were in court Tuesday. At least one of them could be heard crying softly. They declined to comment afterward.

Finci said the incident is tragic all the way around — a young man dead, another young man accused of killing him. “This situation is every family’s worst nightmare, for both sides.”

Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.

Post staff writer Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County, Md.
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