Lingering Case Demonstrates Problems With New Mexico's Earlier Use of Death Penalty

New Mexico abolished the death penalty for future offenses in 2009. However, two people still face execution, including Timothy Allen (pictured), who has been on death row for nearly 17 years. His superficial trial and woefully inadequate representation reveal systemic flaws in the state’s application of capital punishment. The lead attorney in Allen’s trial had never tried a death penalty case before, and failed to research Allen’s psychiatric history. Later investigation revealed that Allen had been diagnosed with and treated for schizophrenia and experienced auditory hallucinations. According to one psychiatric report, Allen was psychotic at the time of the murder for which he was sentenced to death, and committed the crime “while under the influence of command hallucinations, not willfully.” No witnesses were called to testify on Allen’s behalf during the sentencing phase of his trial. The supervising attorney who assigned the inexperienced attorney to the case was himself subject to drug testing by a state disciplinary board and was of little help in the case. Allen’s current attorneys argue that the case would be tried very differently today and that he was deprived of his constitutional right to a fair trial.

Allen was found guilty of a 1995 attempted rape and murder of a young woman.

(L. Linthicum, “We Cannot Be Sloppy With Death Sentences,” Albuquerque Journal, August 30, 2012). See Mental Illness and Representation. Listen to DPIC’s podcast on Representation.