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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Jurors who convicted Paul Allen of capital homicide should not have been allowed to hear that he fraudulently used his work credit card, the inmate's attorneys argued before the Utah Supreme Court.
The credit card fraud "cast a shadow over the entire proceeding," because it might have led jurors to think that if Allen were capable of doing that then he might have been capable arranging his wife's murder, attorney Scott Wiggins argued before the high court as it held a session Wednesday at Brigham Young University.
The justices took the arguments under advisement.
Prosecutors said that by using the credit card instead of a family savings account -- as he told his wife, Jill Allen, he used to make personal purchases -- the North Salt Lake man was able to save up the cash to hire his wife's killer.
George Anthony Taylor, hired through mutual friend Joseph Wright, testified at the trial that he was provided a key to the Allen home where on Aug. 26, 1996, he beat Jill Allen with a baseball bat and strangled her with a belt.
In early 2000, a jury convicted Paul Allen of capital murder. It could not agree on applying the death penalty or life without parole, and Allen was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.
Wiggins told the Supreme Court that prosecutors failed to connect the fraud with the money Taylor and Wright testified Allen supplied them for his wife's death.
Chief Justice Christine Durham and Justice Jill Parrish questioned whether there was sufficient tie between the credit fraud and the murder.
Assistant Attorney General Ken Bronston said the fraud evidence was relevant to the murder, because it made the murder-for-hire claim that much more probable.
During the trial, prosecutors said Allen offered Wright $30,000 to kill his wife and Wright promised George Anthony Taylor $10,000 to carry out the murder.
The prosecutors said Allen's motive was the $250,000 life insurance policy he had taken out on his wife.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)