A Hunt County jury Friday sentenced Arthur Lee Allen Jr. to life in prison for the stabbing death of his wife’s aunt.

The panel deliberated a little more than three hours before returning with the decision, ending a 13-day trial in the 354th District Court. The same jury had previously convicted Allen of capital murder in connection with the death of Hazel Miller Shores.

One of her sons, Jeremy Shores, was satisfied with the verdict.

“I’m glad to see justice was done,” he said. “I’m glad its over with.”

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty for Allen, but District Attorney F. Duncan Thomas said he respected the jury’s decision.

“I believe the jury made the decision that they believed was just, based on the evidence,” Thomas said. “It is not an easy thing to serve on a jury that decides whether someone lives or dies because of their crime. My office and the citizens of Hunt County owe this jury a debt of gratitude for their dedication and service in this case.”

Allen had insisted he had nothing to do with Shores’ death and issued a statement through his attorneys Friday again proclaiming his innocence.

“I still maintain my innocence and want everyone to know I did not kill anybody,” Allen said. “I pray something will happen to show the truth in this matter. I accept this punishment because I have no choice. I have always cared and loved Aunt Hazel and hope her murderer comes out so justice will be done.”

Defense attorney Peter Morgan declined comment, other than to say he and fellow defense counsel Toby Wilkinson would be meeting with Allen early next week to decide whether he intended to appeal the conviction.

Another of Shores’ sons, Dusty Shores, said he intended to stick with the case.

“If he (Allen) tries an appeal, I will be there every single time he goes to court and I will try my best to keep him in there, so he’s not out on the streets,” he said.

Shores, a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) employee, was killed at her home near Quinlan on May 13, 2004. She died of stab wounds about the throat and neck.

Allen was alleged by prosecutors to have stolen around $200 from Shores and also to have taken her 1992 Toyota Camry. Allen was later arrested in Dallas while driving the vehicle. Allen also had the victim’s blood on his clothing when found.

Allen claimed he was always allowed to use the Camry and that he likely got the blood on his clothes when he tripped over Shores’ body or bed while searching for cigarette butts in the darkened house after the murder.

The jury members were asked to determine two special issues. The panel was to decide whether due to the nature of the crime, or through Allen’s criminal history, he would pose a continuing danger to society.

The second issue would be to determine whether there were sufficient mitigating circumstances involved in the crime to justify Allen receiving a life sentence.

The panel received the case at around 8:40 a.m. Friday, and returned shortly before noon. The jury ruled Allen would pose a future danger, but a majority of the panel also ruled there were sufficient mitigating circumstances to warrant a life sentence.

Allen, 39, will have to serve a minimum of 40 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

Thomas credited the work of assistant district attorneys Steve Tittle and Keli Akin in prosecuting the case and the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Parker and Texas Ranger Jeff Collins for investigating the murder.

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