On Thursday, September 7, following fourteen hours of deliberations, a Fort Morgan jury acquitted Charles "Butch" Allee of second-degree murder, first-degree assault and three other charges related to the February 19 beating death of Wiggins farmer Jeffrey Lousberg. Allee's teenaged son, Charles Allee III, is scheduled to stand trial September 27 on assault charges stemming from the same incident ("That's My Boy," March 29).
The trouble apparently started at a local bar with an argument between the elder Allee and Lousberg about the performance of the Wiggins High School wrestling team. Witnesses said that Allee (who has a long police record and a reputation as the town bully) threatened Lousberg with a straight razor and then "invited" him to the Allee home to "finish the discussion."
Hours later, when Lousberg appeared at the Allee homestead, Butch beat him to death (Charles was accused of aiding in the attack). At first it appeared to police to be a case of self-defense--Lousberg, after all, had been trespassing and had shown up at the Allee house in a drunken state. Further investigation, however, revealed that neither Butch nor Charles had received anything other than superficial wounds and that it appeared that Lousberg might have been trying to drive away from the scene when he was pulled from his car and beaten some more.
Allee and his son were charged with murder. (The homicide charges against Charles were dropped after a preliminary hearing.)
It was later discovered, Wiggins police chief John Fryar says, that Butch Allee's adolescent daughter had phoned a friend the morning after Lousberg's death, telling her buddy that Allee had been out of control, that he'd broken a man's hand, killed him with a baseball bat and then hidden the weapon. (No bat was ever recovered, but at least two witnesses reported seeing Allee strike Lousberg with one. Lousberg's hand was broken in the fight.)
At his trial, which opened August 28, Allee disputed the testimony of a half-dozen witnesses, claiming they'd been "mistaken" in what they reported. He claimed that the straight razor had accidentally come out of his pocket at the bar when he pulled out his wallet. And he told the jury that he had had been hurt in the assault but that police had failed to notice the knots on his head. Allee's attorneys claimed that Lousberg was killed as Allee attempted to defend his home and family and that the fact that their client had no visible injuries was "the mark of successful self-defense."
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The jury was not allowed to view photographs of Allee taken shortly after his arrest, because the judge felt that the appearance of Allee's heavily tattooed body might prejudice the jury against him. (Allee wore long-sleeved shirts throughout the trial and had fashioned bangs to cover the flamelike tattoos stretching across his forehead.)
Fryar, who described himself as "flabbergasted by the verdict," contends that the judge's instructions to the jury were slanted heavily toward self-defense. It's still not known whether the district attorney will appeal the verdict.
Meanwhile, the Allee family continues to fight the system. Fryar says they have filed a civil suit against him, claiming that the chief (who was armed with an arrest warrant signed by a judge) placed Charles under false arrest.
And Butch--whom a cousin describes as "a nice guy"--appeared last week before a county court judge on charges that he'd threatened an officer while in custody on the murder charge.