Life Interrupted

Derrick Allen was ruined thanks to a shoddy investigation. It's time he be given his life back.

(This letter, according to sources, is now the basis of a heated argument between state prosecutors and DOC officials. According to those sources, the DOC investigator, Smith, is claiming he turned the note over to prosecutors before they sought grand jury indictments against Allen. Prosecutors, sources claim, are saying they didn't receive the damning evidence against their case until after they succeeded in getting indictments against Allen.)

By spring of last year, officer Allen says he started hearing rumors that Thomas was claiming she was having sex with him.

Soon, her stories were growing more provocative. She got the ear of prison investigators.

Corrections officer Derrick Allen
Emily Piraino
Corrections officer Derrick Allen

Thomas claimed to investigators that she had sex with Allen numerous times. She claimed she had become pregnant by him and that he had forced her to take "two little blue pills" to abort the pregnancy.

She also claimed Allen had twice brought marijuana to her.

It's not uncommon for female inmates to make allegations against corrections officers. Thomas' claims were unusual only in that they were so easy to disprove.

For example, when the investigator interviewed inmate Thomas on November 7 of last year, she claimed she told officer Allen in late September that she was pregnant. She claimed the guard gave her the two pills then.

That's odd. Because in a letter she wrote to her aunt in early July of that year, she also claims she had been pregnant with officer Allen's child. In that letter, she wrote that she had received pills that "he brought me that cause you to miscarry. I have no choice but to take them."

She wrote that letter on July 8. But she told investigators she was pregnant in September, more than two months later.


Interestingly, prior to the investigation, a deputy warden had questioned the prisoner about the letter. The deputy warden testified that inmate Thomas denied writing the letter, denied having been pregnant and denied having sex with guard Derrick Allen.

Also, in her July letter to her aunt, Thomas wrote that both she and Allen were asked by DOC investigators to take a lie-detector test.

That claim, too, is a clear fabrication. DOC investigators did not ask for lie-detector tests until late October of last year, three months after her letter.

Corrections officer Allen passed a polygraph examination June 10, 2002.

He has also passed all drug tests.

According to fellow inmates, prisoner Thomas, on the other hand, often smoked marijuana in prison.

DOC investigators, prison guard Allen says, also failed to interview key prison staff and inmates who would have known of Thomas' patterns of lying.

Beyond Thomas' accusations, investigators and prosecutors seemed to be hanging their case on two bits of information given by Thomas:

Thomas said Allen had been circumcised and had scarring on his left leg.

Thomas does have scarring. But the scarring is on his right leg. And his scarring was a well-known fact among fellow corrections officers. Officer Allen said in testimony that he had told other guards about his scars. So Thomas could have easily learned of the scarring through a third party.

And as the state personnel board investigator recently noted in a report on Allen's case, "an individual who would make these sort of [false statements] would not be deterred from making an educated guess with respect to whether a man of [officer] Allen's age is circumcised."

Indeed, a quick Internet search will tell you that the vast majority of men in North America are circumcised.

Regarding the scarring on Allen's leg, the personnel board investigator wrote: "Inmate Thomas placed the scarring on the wrong leg. While it is possible for some persons to be confused in this regard, it is reasonable to assume that a proper investigation and competent questioning of Thomas would have cleared up the error."

Furthermore, he wrote, "On numerous occasions she made statements which were illogical, inconsistent and clearly false.

"The question of whether inmate Kimberly Thomas is dishonest is not open to debate. The statements which she made to investigators and other staff members were so inconsistent as to preclude any doubt as to her lack of veracity."

It gets worse. As Allen's attorney, Christopher Rapp, pointed out to me, "90 percent of the allegations were dated to times it was absolutely impossible for Derrick Allen to have been where he was accused of being."

"It was like the investigators had no idea how a prison is run," he says. "It's as poor an investigation as I've ever seen."

Also, investigators never found medical evidence proving Thomas had ever been pregnant, he pointed out.

And according to Planned Parenthood officials I interviewed, neither emergency contraceptive pills, "day-after pills," nor abortion pills could be effective in the situation or dosage described by Thomas.

DOC officials turned over their investigation to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Rapp says, but prosecutors there declined to seek an indictment on the sketchy evidence.

So DOC officials went shopping. And they found a buyer for their weak case -- the state Attorney General's Office.

State attorney general prosecutors did seek, and successfully obtain, a grand jury indictment in the case.

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