The Crimes of Death Row Inmate Margaret Allen

The Tragic Murder of a Housekeeper Falsely Accused of Stealing Money

Mugshot of Margaret Allen
Mugshot of Margaret Allen. Mugshot

On February 5, 2005, Wenda Wright was cleaning the home of Margaret Allen when Allen's purse containing $2,000 turned up missing. Allen was furious about the missing money and accused Wright of stealing it. When Wright denied it and tried to leave, Allen struck her in the head, causing her to fall to the floor.

Determined to get the housekeeper to confess, Wright asked her 17-year-old nephew Quinton Allen, to bind Wright's wrists and legs with a belt.

Allen then beat and tortured Wright for over two hours with bleach, fingernail polish remover, rubbing alcohol and hair spritz, which she poured onto her face and down her throat.

Begging for Her Life

Barely able to breathe, Wright begged Allen to let her go. Her cries for help woke up one of Allen's children who walked into the room and witnessed what was happening. Allen instructed the child to rip off a piece of duct tape that she tried to put over Wright's mouth, but because her face was so wet the tape did not stick.

Allen then strangled Wright to death with a belt.

Allen, her nephew and Allen's roommate, James Martin, buried Wright's body in a shallow grave off the highway.

Later Quinton Allen went to the police and confessed to his part in the murder and led authorities to where they buried the body.

Margaret Allen was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping.

Autopsy Report

During Allen's trial, forensic pathologist and chief medical examiner for Brevard County, Florida, Dr. Sajid Qaiser, testified about the results of the autopsy performed on Wenda Wright.

According to the report, Wright had multiple bruising on her face, the front and back of her ear, her left torso, and all over her left side, trunk, right hand, thigh, knee, left eyebrow, forehead, upper arm and shoulder area. 

Wright’s wrists and neck showed signs of ligation, which meant she was hung or something was tied tightly around those areas.

Based on these discoveries, he concluded that Wright died as a result of homicidal violence.

The jury found Allen guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping. 

Penalty Phase

During the penalty phase of the trial, Dr. Michael Gebel, a neurological physician, testified that he had discovered that Allen suffered over the years from multiple head injuries. He said that she had significant intracranial injuries and was at the lower end of intellectual capacity.

He went on to say that Allen's organic brain injury likely destroyed her impulsive control and her ability to control her moods.

Because of this, Dr. Gebel felt that Allen would be unable to see that her attack on Wright was a criminal act.

Dr. Joseph Wu, a neuropsychiatry and brain imaging specialist, also testified that Allen was given a PET scan and that at least 10 traumatic brain injuries were found, including damage to the frontal lobe. A damaged frontal lobe affects impulse control, judgment, and mood regulation. Because of this, he felt that Allen would not be able to follow the rules of society regarding conduct.

Other witnesses, including family members, testified that Allen was subjected to a lot of abuse as a child and had a tough and violent life.

Allen testified on her own behalf and recounted that she had suffered multiple head injuries from being beaten as a child.

Victim Impact Testimony

Wenda Wright’s domestic partner, Johnny Dublin, testified that Wright was a good person and that Wright believed that she and Allen were good friends.

Other family members gave impact statements regarding the impact Wright's murder had on the family.

Despite the medical findings, the jury recommended a sentence of death in a unanimous vote. Circuit Judge George Maxwell followed the jury's recommendations and sentenced Allen to death for the murder of Wenda Wright.

On July 11, 2013, the Supreme Court of Florida upheld the conviction and the death sentence.

Co-Defendants

Quinton Allen was found guilty of second-degree murder and received a 15-year sentence.

James Martin was sentenced to 60 months in prison for his help in burying Wright's body.