The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday overturned the murder conviction of a DeKalb County man who killed his wife and then drove to Virginia and back with her body in the back of his pickup truck.
Dennis Allaben was convicted two years ago of strangling his wife, Maureen, on Jan. 3, 2010. Maureen, the effervescent set decorator of “The Mo’Nique Show” on BET, was also a well-known food stylist in the metro area. She prepared food for display in advertising photos, calling herself “the Mistress of Deception.”
Dennis Allaben wrapped her body in quilted padding, weighted it down in the back of his Ford pickup and drove the couple’s 7- and 8-year-old son and daughter more than 500 miles to Chesterfield, Va.
He dropped his kids at his brother’s house so they would not be taken into state custody, then drove back to Georgia, still with his wife’s corpse. He stopped at a friend’s house in Jonesboro and surrendered to a police officer who lived three houses away.
On Monday, the state Supreme Court noted the DeKalb jury that convicted Allaben found him guilty of both murder and reckless conduct for the same crime. Those verdicts, the court said, are “mutually exclusive” because reckless conduct requires the jury to find that a defendant did not intend to kill or injure the victim.
The case now returns to DeKalb Superior Court for a retrial. The opinion, written by Justice Carol Hunstein, said the court’s justices found that the evidence “was sufficient to authorize a rational jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Allaben was guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted.”