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Man officially sentenced to death in 1996 slaying of Tacoma woman

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on June 13, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
June 13, 2012 2:02 pm

Allen Eugene Gregory was officially sentenced to death – again – today for the slaying of a Tacoma woman 16 years ago.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Rosanne Buckner had no other option for the 39-year-old Gregory during his sentencing hearing this morning.

Last month, a jury found that Gregory should die for what he did to Geneine Harshfield in the kitchen of her home in 1996.

Tacoma police said the 43-year-old was tied up, raped and slashed and stabbed to death with a knife. Investigators later matched Gregory’s DNA to the crime scene.

The eight women and four men were the second jury to decide that Gregory should face the death penalty.

He was originally convicted of killing Harshfield and sentenced to death in 2001. Five years later, the death sentence was overturned by state Supreme Court. The justices modified Gregory’s murder conviction but tossed out the sentence, citing judicial and prosecutorial error.

Prosecutors decided to try again for the death penalty. The penalty trial stretched across three months. The jurors deliberated over two days before reaching their decision.

“I am very grateful to a jury that worked very hard on this case and reached the right result,” deputy prosecutor John Neeb said. “And I know how much it meant to Geneine Harshfield’s mother and the rest of her family.”

Gregory’s death sentence will automatically be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

His defense attorneys have raised concerns about information the jurors might have considered while deliberating Gregory’s fate.

The attorneys talked to the jurors after they reached their verdict. One juror said Gregory had received the death penalty before and it had been reversed, the defense attorneys wrote in court papers.

The jurors had not been told prior to the verdict about Gregory’s previous death sentence and the circumstances for its reversal.

Buckner scheduled a hearing for July 30 to hear testimony from the jurors about what they considered during their deliberations.

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