Arson case preliminary hearing held for Milan Doctor Misty Allen
Case to go before Grand Jury in September
By Caleb Revill
Judge Collins Bonds presided over a preliminary hearing for Milan Doctor Misty Allen at the Trenton General Sessions Court on Tuesday afternoon, June 20.
On March 28, the Milan Fire Department and TBI arson investigators responded to a call about a strong odor and gasoline running down a wall at the Family Care Walk-In Clinic. Dr. Allen, who worked at the clinic, was arrested by TBI special agents on one count of Attempted Aggravated Arson the next day on March 29.
A bond hearing was held in Gibson County Circuit Court the following afternoon on March 30 with Judge Clayburn Peeples presiding due to General Sessions Court Judge Bradley Owens recusing himself from the case. Judge Peeples set Dr. Allen’s bond at $200,000, and she made bond later that evening.
There were some new faces in Tuesday’s preliminary hearing. Mark Donahoe represented Dr. Allen replacing Tim Crocker as her new defense attorney, and Assistant District Attorney General Nina Seiler led the prosecution. Family Walk-In Clinic Administrator Jeff Beuerlein and TBI Arson Investigator Ryan Shanklin both gave witness testimonies during the hearing.
In summary, Beuerlein testified that while he and Allen had disagreements on payment for her supervisor role at the clinic, he was under the impression that the two agreed she would leave amicably. Shanklin testified that the liquid poured onto an electrical junction in the ceiling tested positive for gasoline.
Shanklin said that Allen was the only person up to an hour before the incident to be seen on video going to the restrooms where the gasoline was found on the walls. Allen was recorded on video with a bottle in her sweater pocket. While Shanklin was not a part of the TBI team that investigated Allen’s home following the incident, he confirmed that investigators did retrieve a sweater and that sweater did not test positive for accelerant materials.
After close to 2 hours of witness questioning, the preliminary hearing concluded with arguments from both the prosecution and defense.
“At best here, there is some circumstantial evidence that she was in the same area that this incident occurred,” Donahoe said. “That’s it. There’s nothing connecting her to the gasoline, nothing connecting her to anything at all. There’s no motive, there’s nothing. They tried to insinuate that she had been fired, but when we found out in the cross-examination, it was a joint-agreement and she said she would just go ahead and leave (the clinic). There’s no animosity. There’s just no reason that this would occur in any way, and the scene’s been so contaminated, I don’t know how to figure out what happened or went on based on the proof here today. Your honor, put Dr. Allen out of her misery and dismiss this case.”
“Your honor, what we have here is simply motive and opportunity,” Seiler said. “(Allen) was terminated, and there is obvious antagonism based on that alone … She is the only one who was shown to enter the area of question. She had a bottle prior to doing so. As Agent Shanklin states, she is the one that pointed out that sweater and there are multiple sweaters that she has that are very similar. She said no, it was that one that I wore.”
Seiler also said that the TBI testing report states that, in summary, just because they did not find gasoline on that sweater doesn’t mean that it was not present. She concluded that probable cause has been met.
“This is probable cause here,” Judge Bonds said. “Whether it be guilty or innocent, obviously I did not find (Allen) guilty. I do find that there is a probable cause circumstantially.”
Judge bonds said that a Grand Jury will review the case in September to determine if there is probable cause to go forward with a trial.
More information about Tuesday’s preliminary hearing regarding witness testimonies will be available in our upcoming June 27 edition.