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An Oakland man was convicted today of first-degree murder and other charges for beating and stabbing his 89-year-old aunt to death and then setting her home on fire three years ago in an attempt to cover up his crime. Allen Thomas, 53, will face a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole when Alameda County Superior Judge Joan Cartwright sentences him. His sentencing date hasn’t yet been set because he still faces a hearing next week to confirm his prior convictions in other cases. Deputy District Attorney Annie Saadi said today that Thomas had been robbing and stealing from Amanda Pierre for years to feed his long time drug habit. She said Pierre had gotten a restraining order against him in 2006 because she was afraid of him and “he didn’t like that very much.” In addition to first-degree murder, jurors, who deliberated for less than one full day, convicted Thomas of arson and three special circumstance clauses: murder during a robbery, murder during a burglary and murder during a rape with a foreign object. In her opening statement in Thomas’s trial three weeks ago, Saadi said a neighbor reported to authorities that Thomas told him a few hours before Pierre’s death that he was mad at her because she believed she had kept money from him that he thought he was owed in a settlement. Saadi said the neighbor told Thomas not to harm Pierre because she
loved him, but Thomas said several times, “I’m going to kill that dirty bitch.” The neighbor then went to bed, “not truly believing that the defendant (Thomas) would actually carry out his threat against his own auntie,” Saadi said. But a few hours later, shortly after 1 a.m. on Sept. 14, 2007, sirens blared as firefighters responded to a blaze at Pierre’s home at 710 24th St. in Oakland, she told jurors. Paramedics found Pierre’s “lifeless and bloody body” on the floor of her bedroom, Saadi said. She said paramedics immediately suspected that the blaze was suspicious because Pierre had “wounds on her chest that were not consistent with being caused by a fire.” Saadi said investigators concluded that the fire was deliberately set, likely with an accelerant, and discovered that the smoke detectors in Pierre’s home had been disabled. She said investigators then found a 13-inch chef’s knife and a large pipe wrench in Pierre’s bedroom. An autopsy found that Pierre died from blunt trauma to her head and multiple stab wounds to her chest. Saadi said Pierre suffered a broken jaw and a fractured face and at least 11 stab wounds to her chest, with one wound penetrating through her body. Saadi said blood and DNA evidence tied Thomas to his aunt’s death and he eventually admitted that he had “a physical confrontation” with her but claimed that her death was an accident. Thomas’ attorney, Assistant Public Defender Brendon Woods, couldn’t be reached for comment today. In his opening statement, Woods said the case “is not a whodunit” and he doesn’t deny that Thomas is responsible for his aunt’s death. Instead, Woods said the case is “more about what happened” and what Thomas’ frame of mind was at the time. Woods said Thomas had been a drug addict for many years and was under the influence of crack cocaine, alcohol and painkillers that evening. He said Thomas went to Pierre’s house but became worried because her door was slightly open and she didn’t respond when he called out to her. Woods said Thomas picked up a wrench and when he saw someone come at him with an object he hit the person with the wrench and stabbed them. He said Thomas believes he stabbed Pierre only once but he admitted that the evidence shows that Pierre was stabbed multiple times. Woods said, “This crime was not premeditated” and Thomas carelessly left behind “a trail of blood” because he was under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Woods said Thomas is not guilty of first-degree murder because “he did not go there to rob her or rape her.” He said voluntary manslaughter
would be a more appropriate verdict. But Saadi said today that she thinks that first-degree murder is “a just verdict and the only reasonable verdict.”
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