Kenneth Earl Allen, who had been charged in connection with the March 2019 murder of 80-year-old Norma Brown, pleaded guilty to her murder on Monday in Lee County Superior Court.
Allen, now 40, will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prior to the plea agreement, the state had been pursuing the death penalty.
Allen, clad in an orange jumpsuit and shackles while sometimes audibly emotional members of Brown’s family looked on, sat flanked by his lawyers as Assistant District Attorney Mike Beam read aloud the factual basis for the crime.
According to Beam, Allen had come to Brown’s home on Polly Lane off Lower Moncure Road the night of March 3, 2019 after smoking crack and running out of money. Beam said Allen was known to Brown – he had previously helped her move a refrigerator – so she apparently let him and offered him a glass of water. Later, Allen stabbed her in the throat and left the scene with her purse and her vehicle.
The vehicle was found near downtown Sanford, and Allen was later located in the basement of a home on McIver Street based on a tip from an acquaintance of Allen’s, who told law enforcement that Allen had confessed to him. When Allen was arrested, he gave a confession to investigators with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Beam said.
Brown’s son Richard Smith addressed the court, saying “I believe in the death penalty … but I want (Allen) to live for a long, long time in prison, and to suffer like we have. And I hope he rots in Hell.”
Allen was also allowed to speak, saying he accepted his sentence and responsibility for the crime, but also told members of Brown’s family that he had not gone to Brown’s home with the intent to harm her and that “you know that’s not me.”
“That’s why it hurts so damn bad,” Smith yelled back.
Allen had previously been convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon in 2006, and served several years in state prison for that crime. He had charges pending in Harnett County at the time of his arrest for Brown’s murder. Allen was represented in this case by attorneys Fred Webb of Sanford and Richard Trenkle of Pittsboro.