An Akron father accused of involuntary manslaughter in the January shooting death of his 4-year-old son pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge and other offenses Tuesday, breaking down in tears as the judge finalized terms of the plea.
Terrance Allen, 49, faces a prison term of three to 11 years on the most serious charge under Ohio sentencing guidelines.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter, who accepted the plea after discussions in her chambers with attorneys from both sides, ordered a pre-sentence investigation and scheduled July 16 as Allen’s sentencing date.
No details of the shooting were revealed in open court, but police have said that Allen’s son, Jamarcus Allen, got a hold of a gun in the back seat of Allen’s car and accidentally shot himself.
The shooting happened at about 9:30 in the morning, Jan. 23, as Allen was driving a 1998 Ford Taurus at South Arlington Street and Davies Avenue.
He pulled over suddenly, according to police accounts, and signaled for a Summit County sheriff’s deputy patrolling nearby.
A witness told police that Allen had his son cradled in his arms outside the car as the deputy arrived on the scene.
Jamarcus was taken to Akron Children’s Hospital and was pronounced dead about an hour later.
Allen entered court in red-striped jail clothes and shackles and stood before the bench, clenching his jaw muscles with his head bowed, as the proceedings began.
He made no comments in court, except to answer firmly when the judge asked if he understood the rights he was giving up by pleading guilty.
Just before the final terms were agreed upon, Allen broke down and wept as his attorney quietly consoled him.
Allen also pleaded guilty to having a weapon under felony disability, along with an additional misdemeanor charge for violating a protection order.
Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Jonathan Baumoel, who negotiated the plea, told Hunter that “no promises” were made about what the sentence might be.
The weapons charge, a third-degree felony, carries a sentencing range of nine months up to a maximum of three years. In exchange for the guilty pleas, two additional felony charges, tampering with evidence and endangering children, were dismissed by motion of the prosecutor.
It was a solemn hearing from beginning to end, as family members from both sides sat in the public gallery and quietly left the courthouse when the proceedings ended.
Under terms of the plea, Hunter will hear victim impact statements at the sentencing.
Pretrial court records showed that the defendant had a 1996 felony burglary conviction, barring him from carrying or owning a gun.
Allen remains in custody at the county jail, unable to meet terms of his $350,000 bond.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.