Man in fatal Walla Walla fire ruled competent for trial

Jared F. Allen faces methamphetamine-manufacturing charges in a case connected to a fire that killed three women early this year.

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WALLA WALLA -- A man accused of manufacturing methamphetamine, which officials believe started a fire that killed three women last February, has been found mentally competent to stand trial.

Jared F. Allen, 42, of 309 N. Sixth Ave., was ordered in September to undergo an evaluation by personnel from Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake. Based on the results, Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge John Lohrmann signed an order of competency Monday and scheduled Allen's trial to begin March 23.

Allen's attorney, Jim Barrett, indicated trial preparation will take some time. He told Lohrmann he probably had his first "coherent conversation" with Allen earlier in the day.

"(Allen has) had a lot of post-traumatic stress; he's had a lot of other things," Barrett said. He didn't elaborate.

Allen previously pleaded innocent to two counts of manufacturing methamphetamine and one count each of possessing pseudoephedrine with intent to manufacture meth and unlawful storage of anhydrous ammonia.

He was arrested July 25 on a warrant issued when he was charged with cooking meth in an RV on Woodlawn Street the evening of Feb. 25. Officials said a chemical fire flashed during the process, killing three people -- including his daughter Shanda Lee Allen -- inside the vehicle.

The additional charges, filed in September, stem from the discovery of items in a Melrose Street storage unit linked to Allen, officials said. A tank of anhydrous ammonia was found, in addition to medication containing pseudoephedrine, and jars and bottles consistent with the process of manufacturing meth, according to authorities.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Gabriel Acosta has filed notice to seek an exceptionally long sentence for Allen if he is convicted, partly because of his lengthy criminal history.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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