Court of Appeals Upholds Conviction of Grand Rapids Man Responsible for Wife’s Traffic Death

In 2010, Julie Mae Wright-Allen died after being involved in a crash in which her husband’s SUV collided with a speeding Grand Rapids police patrol car. Her husband, Ronald Lee Allen, was convicted on charges of operating a vehicle with a suspended license causing death.

Allen, 32, appealed the conviction, but the state Court of Appeals upheld it according to recent news reports. On February 21 of 2010, Allen and his wife were in a GMC Jimmy with two other people when Allen allegedly drove through a flashing red light, colliding with Officer Greg Bauer who was in a patrol car. The crash caused the SUV to roll; Wright-Allen died after suffering fatal head injuries.

According to news reports, Officer Bauer had a flashing yellow light, and thus the right of way. At the time of the accident, Wright-Allen was on maternity leave from the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Grandville, where she worked. She was a mother of a 1-month-old baby and a 2 year old, both girls.

Soon after the deadly crash occurred, Wright-Allen’s family questioned the officer’s speed. While it was alleged that Bauer was driving 25 mph, Allen’s mother said that “You are not going to tell me that, going 25 mph, you are going to flip and SUV.” Sgt. Steve Labrecque of the Grand Rapids police said that he did not believe Bauer was driving too fast, and that ultimately the SUV blew the red flashing light, causing it to turn around and roll over. Labrecque also stated that Bauer saw the SUV coming and tried to avoid it by hitting the brakes, but could not.

It was later determined that Bauer was driving 44 mph in the 25 mph zone. In his appeal request, Allen argued that the jury originally was not adequately instructed by the trial judge regarding the officer’s speeding, and that it could a causing factor in the crash. However, the appeals panel said that at the time of the trial, Allen’s trial attorney had no objections as part of the trial strategy.

Allen argued that Bauer’s speeding in a high traffic area was “grossly negligent,” however the Court of Appeals held that gross negligence could not be adequately established on violating the speed limit on its own. The appeals panel upheld Allen’s conviction writing that evidence concluded that Allen was not paying attention, drove through a flashing red traffic light and was intoxicated when the crash occurred.


If you feel that you have been sentenced unfairly or were subject to penalties you feel were exceedingly harsh for the crime you were found guilty of committing, you may have the right to appeal. Consult with an experienced and aggressive Michigan criminal appeals attorney today to learn if you may be entitled to a second chance.