Barring unlikely relief from the U.S. Supreme Court, it appears convicted Morristown killer Nathaniel “Nat” Allen has exhausted his appeals in the 2003 contract first-degree murder of Don Wilder Jr., an informant scheduled to testify that Allen sold him crack cocaine.
Allen, 42, is incarcerated at the Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville.
He will be parole-eligible in late 2060 when he would be 83 years old, according to the Tennessee Department of Correction.
Allen didn’t kill Wilder.
He paid codefendants George “Lee” Smith and Smith’s girlfriend, Shannon Jarnigan in cash and crack to murder Wilder, which they accomplished.
It was Smith and Jarnigan’s statements to law enforcement that formed the basis of Allen’s latest appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Smith told investigators that Allen provided him with the murder weapon. Jarnigan told investigators Allen wanted Wilder dead because he was a “snitch,” according to the opinion.
Redacted versions of those conversations that did not include references to Allen were presented as evidence at trial.
Allen argued unsuccessfully that the redacted confessions were entered into evidence and the trial judge violated his right to confront a witness by refusing to try him separately, according to the opinion.
With the three being tried together, the only inference jurors could draw, Allen maintained, was that they acted together. The appeals court disagreed.
“Jarnigan’s redacted statement contained nothing factually incriminating, no explicit reference to Allen, and nothing so obvious that it could refer to only to him,” the opinion states. “Jarnigan’s statement contained no reference to Allen, modified or otherwise.”
As to Smith’s redacted statement, along with a transcript of a recorded conversation between Smith and Allen, the appeals court concluded that wasn’t the only incriminating statement prosecutors presented.
Witnesses Danielle Sissy Epps, Robert Dewayne Rucker, Michael Brassfield – Allen’s brother – and Kristopher Jarnigan, defendant Jarnigan’s brother, “told a consistent version of events describing Allen’s role in the murder, much of which was far more detailed and inculpatory than the testimony that he had delivered the gun to Smith.”