PITTSFIELD, Ill -- A Pike County jury needed nearly four hours Friday to find a Louisiana, Mo., man guilty in the March 2019 stabbing death of a Pleasant Hill man.
Charles Allen was convicted on one count of first-degree murder in the death of 65-year-old Donald "Tiny" Collard.
Allen, 45, faces between 20 and 100 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Sentencing is scheduled March 18.
The verdict concluded a weeklong trial stemming from the March 26, 2019, stabbing death of Collard, who is Allen's former father-in-law.
"I believe this was the appropriate result, and I would like to commend our local law enforcement for the extensive investigation into this case," said Pike County State's Attorney Zachary Boren. "They committed a large amount of resources into their investigation. I'd also like to commend the jury for doing its job of sorting through a good amount of evidence in this case."
According to testimony, Collard died of four puncture wounds to the chest region, including one that severed an artery in his heart. Collard also had wounds to his hands and elbow.
Boren said the key piece of evidence in the case was the number and type of stab wounds.
"These stab wounds were evident of deliberate actions taken by Mr. Allen," Boren said.
Allen's attorney, Charles James of St. Peters, Mo., told the jury of nine women and three men that Collard's injuries were a result of Allen attempting to defend himself from Collard.
Taking the stand, Allen said that Collard reached through the open window of his truck and had his hands on Allen's throat and had begun hitting him in the face.
"He was jerking my head, trying to get my head out of the window," Allen said. The two men were fighting after Allen and Allen's daughter arrived uninvited to Collard's Pleasant Hill home to pick up another of Allen's daughters who had become upset and locked herself in the bathroom. The daughter had sent text messages asking for her sister to come, both lawyers said.
Allen said it was never his intention to harm or kill Collard, but "I just wanted to get him to let go of me and to stop hitting me. He was in such a rage."
He said he only reached for his knife to defend himself and that he didn't know for sure that he was actually stabbing Collard because it was dark outside and that Allen's arms were "just flailing about."
Boren disagreed and argued in court that Collard's wounds were not signs that Allen had feared for his life, but that Allen was the aggressor, and Collard, who was unarmed, was the victim.
"Everyone knows that stabbing someone repeatedly in the chest is intent to kill," Boren said.
He said Collard told his wife to call police when they believed Allen's truck pulled up in front of their home is evidence that Collard didn't go outside to fight Allen.
"He simply went outside to protect his wife, his daughter, his family and his home," Boren said. " ‘Tiny' Collard is not angry, he has had a really good day. He had his family over, they had celebrated a birthday. He wasn't angry."
Boren repeatedly said that Allen's explanation of what came next is a "series of lies, convincing lies."
"Why would we believe him at this point when so many of his lies are so obviously self-serving?" he asked the jury.
Allen had been held in the Pike County Jail on $2 million bond.