Anthony Charles Allen hoped to reconcile with his estranged father after spending years apart, relatives said Thursday. But instead, he shot and killed the 51-year-old man during an argument last year at a Beachwood-area home.
Now Allen, 21, will spend up to 16 years in state prison, Judge Mark V. Bacciarini ordered.
Allen pleaded no contest Aug. 22 to a single felony count of voluntary manslaughter in connection with the Jan. 8, 2012, shooting death of his father, Arnold. Initially charged with murder, Allen cut a deal with the Merced County district attorney’s office to avoid a potential life sentence.
Court bailiffs removed one man from court Thursday during Allen’s sentencing hearing after a loud argument broke out between Allen and the man, who identified himself as an uncle.
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“What you did was wrong,” the man told Allen.
“You don’t know me,” Allen responded, remaining seated and shackled in the jury box. “You don’t know anything about it.”
Other family members also shouted at the man. His name could not be confirmed Thursday. “We don’t know you, we’ve never seen you before,” one woman yelled as bailiffs escorted the man outside.
Some of those in the courtroom appeared more forgiving, including the victim’s girlfriend, Leath Woodard.
“I do love Anthony,” Woodard said in court. “I did not want you to spend eternity in (prison).”
Woodard encouraged Allen to pursue an education and religion while incarcerated.
“Your father loved you, Anthony,” she said. “This is a sad day for everybody.”
Allen’s mother, who is identified in court documents as Iantha Shabazz, asked the judge for “mercy” and to reduce her son’s sentence.
“I know that if Arnold were here, he would not want his son to spend this amount of time,” she told the court.
Allen accepted the prison term as part of his plea bargain.
Almost none of Allen’s relatives wanted him behind bars, Deputy District Attorney Matthew Serratto acknowledged.
“I think this is the right outcome,” Serratto said. “Certainly it’s been very hard on the whole family and it’s a situation where you have to take all of their wishes into account. A life prison sentence just did not seem like the best outcome for anyone.”
Allen’s attorney, Kim Boortz, had been preparing a self-defense argument in the case before Allen pleaded no contest. The defense attorney noted that Allen’s father also had a history of violence and had served time in prison.
“I don’t think it was self-defense,” Serratto said. “It definitely seems like a voluntary manslaughter.”
According to Allen’s sentencing report, he was dropped off at the home in the 2900 block of Parker Drive on the morning of the shooting. Allen’s father came out of the house yelling that Allen had to leave.
Serratto said there was some pushing and shoving between both men during the argument.
Sometime between 11:15 a.m. and noon, neighbors heard two gunshots. Arnold Allen’s body was found in the garage with a gunshot wound on the left side of his head, according to court documents.
Family members testified last year the pair had been arguing frequently over Allen’s lifestyle, including his lack of employment and choice in friends.
Allen’s probation report describes him as a gang member, but also emphasizes that Allen’s crime was not gang-related.
Relatives told investigators Allen had previously threatened to shoot his father.
“The defendant has so much anger toward his father that he followed through with a declaration he made previously about killing his father,” the sentencing report says. “... The defendant’s behavior was brutal and senseless.”
Probation officers also recommend Allen spend time in prison.
“The defendant’s history is violent and he should not be released to the community,” the report says.
That description contradicted the picture painted by Allen’s family Thursday.
Allen’s aunt, Rosa Shabazz, told Allen she loved him and “keep your head up.”
“I know you’re an asset to society,” she said, “and not a menace to society.”