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Austin Curtis Sentenced To 55 Years In Prison
Updated September 16, 2014 9:28 AM | Filed under: Crime
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Austin Curtis

(BEDFORD) - 18-year-old Austin Curtis was sentenced to 55 years to the Department of Corrections Monday afternoon for his part in the death of Rodney Allender.

Curtis plead guilty on August 15, to his part in killing Allender. As part of that plea agreement, Superior Court II Judge William Sleva suspended 10 of those years. Curtis will serve five years on supervised probation, and five years on unsupervised probation. He will also be required to register for life as a violent offender.

The charge of robbery resulting in bodily injury, a Class A felony, was dismissed.

Curtis, who was represented by Bloomington Attorney Sam Shapiro, must also provide a complete and truthful account of what happened the night Rodney Allender was murdered, including the roles of the two co-defendants - 16-year-old Dillon Hicks and 20-year-old Taylor Flynn.

If he fails to cooperate, the plea agreement will be null and void and Curtis could face a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison.

As part of accepting the guilty plea, Curtis admitted to his part in killing 43-year-old Rodney Allender.

Officers from the Lawrence County Police Department were called to a home at 1758 Dutch Ridge Road after Clinton Allender and his girlfriend arrived and found Rodney's body. According to an autopsy report, Allender died of blunt force trauma to the head.

Monday in court, Curtis admitted to his participation in the robbery where Allender was attacked and killed.

"He will not say he killed Mr. Allender," Shapiro said, "But he did participate in the robbery where Mr. Allender was killed."

According to Curtis the teens planned to rob Allender after they learned he kept a large amount of money in a safe at his home on Dutch Ridge Road.

"The plan, by me and others was to burglarize the home and steal the safe," Curtis said in court.

The teens were planning to burglarize the home when no one was home.

According to Shapiro the teens had went by the house several times over a number of days before committing the crime.

"The plan was to have Mr. Flynn (a co-defendant in the murder) to dress up like a woman and knock on the door," Shapiro added.

Curtis testified that when Allender opened the door Flynn shot him in the leg.

"Then there was a struggle," Shapiro said.

Curtis said that is when Flynn asked him to hit Allender. Curtis hit Allender twice with a baseball bat, once in the legs and once in the head. Flynn also hit Allender in the head with the rifle butt. Allender was then tied up with duct tape.

Police say the teens allegedly hit and tased Allender repeatedly until he gave them the combinations to his safe. The teens then allegedly ransacked Allender's home, stealing money and guns.

Officers found the home in disarray with furniture overturned, a door ripped off the hinges, a desk emptied and papers thrown around and two safes open and emptied. Police noted there was blood throughout the home.

Rodney Allender was found in his garage by his son and his girlfriend, lying on his side with a severe head injury. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Allender's family pleaded with the judge to sentence Curtis to the maximum penalty.

Rodney's sister, Buffy Allender, insisted Curtis look at her as she read a statement to the court.

"I can't make reason on what justice would be...nothing will bring my brother back...he was a good person, Austin," Allender stated. "You still have a chance to have a brother will never have a chance to hold his grandbaby. You are a monster of a human being. Your title and actions will always be tied to your name."

Suzie Hendershot also prepared a statement to the court.

In that statement, Hendershot said she can never again make a pecan pie without remembering her son. She too asked for the maximum sentence.

"I can't stop thinking about how long he laid there and suffered," she wrote. "You took Rodney's life without mercy. He will be missed, loved and always remembered."

Curtis also asked to address the court.

"No words could suffice on how truly sorry I am," Curtis said. "From the bottom of my heart I am sorry. I hope and beg for your forgiveness. I may never forgive myself for what I have done. If I could trade places, I would."

Curtis also apologized to his family, the police, the court and the community.

"I was not raised this way," he added. "They (his parents) deserve a better son. I had plans to join the Marines. Instead I shattered my life and those of others. I was around drugs and the wrong people. I hope others learn from my mistake. I have destroyed and hurt families. I will spend the rest of my life making it prove this is not the type of person I am."

Curtis was arrested on March 1 after being questioned by police and admitting his part of the crime. Flynn and Hicks had fled to Ironton, Ohio and were arrested the same day. They were then extradited back to Lawrence County.

According to Ironton Police Chief Dan Johnson, an officer remembered seeing the white 1995 Chevrolet Beretta used in the crime during his patrols.

Chief Johnson says Flynn and Hicks fled, leading police on a car chase through parts of the city and into a residential area, where officers stopped the pursuit after the Beretta almost hit several children.

Officers lost sight of the vehicle, but soon found it again. The teens stopped the car and then fled on foot and police found them hiding in the back of a van.

According to Hicks and Flynn's probable cause affidavits:

A Bedford North Lawrence High School student told police that Flynn, Hicks and and third person had come to his house on Feb. 27 and bragged how they had "robbed a big guy who lived in the middle of nowhere." According to the witness, Flynn said he had used a stun gun and a taser on the man.

Flynn then threatened the witness, saying if he told anyone Flynn would harm, even kill him.

A face covering that Hicks had been wearing was found in the woods near Empire Quarry. The teens also allegedly hid the gun used to shot Allender in the area of the cemetery near the quarry. But the teens allegedly returned and retrieved the gun, but couldn't find Hick's mask.

A search warrant was issued for the white 1995 Chevrolet Z26 Beretta Flynn was driving on Feb. 27. The teens used the vehicle to transport the money and the guns from the crime scene in Heltonville back to Bedford. The same vehicle was driven to Ohio.

Flynn, is facing charges of murder, robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, Class A felony; burglary resulting in bodily injury, Class A felony; conspiracy to commit burglary, Class B felony; and use of a firearm, a sentencing enhancement. He is scheduled to be in Lawrence Superior Court II Sept.29 at 1:30 p.m. for a pretrial hearing.

Hicks is facing charges of murder, robbery resulting in bodily injury, Class A felony; and conspiracy to commit burglary, Class B felony. His next court appearance in Lawrence Superior Court II is a pretrial hearing set for Oct.30 at 9 a.m.

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