Arthur 'Tommy' Allain loses hearing for new trial in notorious child abuse case

BROOKSVILLE — He brought a manila folder stuffed full of documents. He promised that the truth was finally going to come out. And he was prepared to face down the man who defended him the last time around.

As he wished, Arthur "Tommy" Allain got another day in court.

But once again, Allain finds himself headed back to state prison.

Circuit Judge Jack Springstead denied each of Allain's nearly 40 motions and a request for a new trial during an almost six-hour evidence hearing Wednesday afternoon.

"I find no error on the part of Mr. Ambrose,'' the judge said. "It seems that Mr. Allain wants to blame everyone but himself for the position he's in.''

The Allains, who lived in a cluttered doublewide mobile home north of Weeki Wachee, were arrested in June 2004 and charged with child abuse and neglect for starving a 10-year-old girl in their foster care.

Authorities said the girl was dehydrated, malnourished and weighed just 29 pounds, putting her "at risk of imminent death."

But the Allains skipped their trial date later that fall and fled town before being caught in New Jersey in January 2005.

While they were on the lam, the Allains gained notoriety for their continued phone calls to the St. Petersburg Times in which they alleged a countywide conspiracy against them.

During the three-day trial in March 2005, an investigator from the state Department of Children and Families said the girl looked like someone from a concentration camp. A doctor later testified the girl would have died had she not been removed from the Allains' care when she was.

The jury took less than 40 minutes to return a guilty verdict.

The Allains were sentenced to 25 years in prison and received another five-year sentence for failing to show up for their original trial.

At the hearing Wednesday, Arthur Allain — representing himself — directed much of his ire against his former court-appointed attorney.

Allain claimed Elliott Ambrose didn't mount much of a defense during the 2005 trial, alleging that he didn't call an expert to testify about the girl's previous health problems; that Ambrose didn't provide evidence showing that Allain wasn't at home when much of the neglect occurred; and that Ambrose was working with DCF as part of the conspiracy, among other things.

"He had divided loyalty," Allain said.

But Ambrose said he did the best he could given the evidence, and that he had advised Arthur Allain to sever his case from his wife's case. Allain refused.

"I felt very strongly that his case would be tainted by going to trial with Lori Allain," Ambrose said. "It could have been a game-changer. But he really didn't want me to do that."

Allain bristled: "His word over mine."

Growing more frustrated as Springstead denied each of his motions, Allain claimed the hearing was fixed.

"I feel like this has all been rehearsed," Allain said. "I feel very prejudiced in here."

Two hours into the hearing, Allain defiantly resigned himself to defeat.

"I'm done with this … shut my doors and take me back to county jail," Allain said to Springstead. "We didn't do nothing. Sitting in prison for the rest of our life because we didn't do nothing."

Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6120.

Arthur 'Tommy' Allain loses hearing for new trial in notorious child abuse case 02/17/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 18, 2010 3:19pm]

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