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Trials in Allen Plumbing case put off til April

By Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
Police tape stretches across the entrance of Allen Plumbing along Eisenhower Parkway in Denison after employee and namesake family member Robert Allen, 55, was found dead inside the business on Halloween night in 2017.

Two men accused of killing Robert Allen in October of 2017 will not go to trial next week. The trials for Timothy Barnum, 48, and Tyrone Sommers, 50, have been continued until April 5.

The two men have both pleaded not guilty to murder charges in connection with Allen's death.

The case began  on Halloween of 2017 when police were called to Allen Plumbing just off of Eisenhower Parkway in Denison at around 10:30 p.m. about shots fired at the location.

Inside the family business, police found Robert Dale Allen, 55, deceased. Information released at that time did not identify Allen. But, he was named as the deceased one day later. Police said they did not have a suspect in the case. As time wore on, a reward was offered for information that led to an arrest and conviction. And, it increased. The reward went from $1,000 to $10,000 with the Grayson County District Attorney's Office and an anonymous donor supplying most of that money.

One year to the day after the death of Allen, police identified Sommers and Barnum as suspects in the case. They were both eventually indicted on murder charges. Since then changes in attorneys and the pandemic have contributed to delays in getting the case to trial. 

In the most recent round of motions to continue the case, both attorneys cited the pandemic as a reason to postpone their client's day in court. 

Tyrone Sommers

Sommer's attorney Jeromie Oney said COVID-19 restrictions would require the the jury to be socially distanced and for everyone involved to wear masks. 

"The defendant is requesting a continuance so that the case might be tried under normal trial conditions. Failure to grant a continuance would deny the defendant effective assistance of counsel and the right to confront the witnesses against him," Oney said in the motion. 

Oney also cited his recent eye surgeries and the needed follow up visits as reasons that the February trial date needed to be moved.  

Timothy Barnum

in her motion for a continuance for her client Barnum, attorney Laura Andrade also cited the need for more time since she had only recently been assigned the case.

"Defendant is charged in this case with various felonies, including murder. Defendant’s counsel was appointed by the Court on 10/02/20. This matter is set for trial on February 8, 2021. Defendant’s counsel is requesting a continuance until the Court would provide because Defendant’s counsel requires more time to adequately get prepared for trial in this case. The amount of discovery associated with the charges in this case is particularly voluminous. Defendant has made assertions to his counsel that require further investigation, and it will not be possible to complete all additional investigation required by the current set trial date of February 8, 2021. In addition, new discovery was tendered to Defendant’s counsel on 01/13/21. This Motion is not made for the purpose of delay, but rather to further the interest of justice," she wrote.

She is the latest in a line of attorneys that have been provided to Barnum during his time in jail on these charges. She was appointed to the case in early October and by the end of the month, she was asking Judge Jim Fallon for permission to withdraw from the case. He eventually denied that request. A look at the record in the case on the county website shows Barnum has had at least two attorneys prior to Andrade.

Sommers has only had one attorney during his time awaiting trial.

Smith said the state was ready to go to trial on Monday and opposed the continuance. Early on in the prosecution of the case, the state asked to be allowed to try the two men together and that request was objected to by the defense and denied by the judge.

Neither Oney or Andrade responded to calls seeking comment on the postponement of their client's cases. 

Time Line of the Allen Plumbing case:

Nov. 1, 2017 Police identify the body found at Allen Plumbing on October 31, 2017 as Robert Allen, 55, of Denison. 

October 31, 2018, Tyrone Sommers identified as a suspect in Allen's death. 

Nov. 5, 2918, Timothy Barnum, 46,  arrested on a murder charge in Allen's death.

Nov. 1, 2019, Judge Jim Fallon refuses request to lower Barnum's $1.5 million bond;

Oct. 26,2020, Andrade requests to be withdrawn as Barnum's counsel;

Dec. 10, 2020 Andrade's motion to withdraw denied.