A DeKalb County jury sentenced 47-year-old Dennis Allaben to life in prison for strangling his wife, then driving to Virginia with her body in the bed of his truck.
On Aug. 11, Superior Court Judge Linda Warren Hunter sentenced Allaben to life in prison with the possibility of parole, the sentence District Attorney Robert James asked for because the defendant had no prior record. Allaben was charged with malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault.
Allaben’s wife Maureen was a set decorator for The Mo’Nique Show, which is filmed in Atlanta and airs on BET. She was also a popular food stylist, arranging displays in advertising photographs.
According to testimony, Allaben strangled his wife and loaded her body into the back of his pickup truck. He then placed his two young children—Spencer and Paige—in the front seat, told them he had just killed their mother and drove to Chesterfield, Va.
After dropping his children off at his brother’s house, Allaben drove back to Atlanta. The round trip took nearly two days, all the while Maureen’s body was wrapped up in a quilt in the back of his pickup truck.
Allaben later turned himself in to police and admitted to “accidentally” killing his wife.
Assistant District Attorney Patricia Jackson said that she was “ecstatic” about the verdict and was glad that Maureen Allaben’s day in court finally came.
“In light of what he did—strangulation was serious—I understand the district attorney’s filing of life without parole so I’m fine with the sentence,” Jackson said.
Monique Thornton, Maureen’s sister, addressed the courtroom in tears before Allaben’s sentencing.
“This did not have to happen, he could have left; he did not have to murder her,” Thornton said. “Your honor I ask that you sentence Dennis Ronald Allaben to life in prison without ever, ever, the possibility of parole for the deliberate and intentional murder of Maureen Allaben, my sister.”
During the trial the assistant district attorney argued that Allaben had lost control of his wife so he came up with a plan to “stop her dead in her tracks.”
“After the defendant killed her, he put her in a quilt, wrapped her up with duct tape and he threw her body on the bed of his Ford pickup truck like garbage,” Jackson said.
Jackson said that from the very beginning, Allaben had planned to kill her and the argument that escalated in their Doraville home on Jan. 3, was the perfect excuse to set his plan in motion.
“He had a plan to kill her, he had a plan to dump the body. I’m convinced of that,” Jackson said.
In opening statements Allaben’s attorney Steven Frey argued that his client never intended to kill his wife. He said that they got into an argument that turned physical and Allaben strangled her.
Frey described Allaben as “someone who wanted some answers and found himself in a situation where unintended consequences, unforeseen consequences, did in fact become apparent.”
“He is disappointed in the jury’s verdict but he hopes her family finds some peace,” Frey said on behalf of Allaben.