Round Lake man charged in Allendale death to argue self-defense

  • James Davis

    James Davis

  • Shaquan Allen

    Shaquan Allen

Updated 9/20/2017 6:48 PM

Attorneys for a Round Lake man accused of choking a teen to death during a behavioral episode at a Lake Villa home for troubled youth intends to use the victim's past to show the chokehold was applied in self-defense.

Defense attorney Kevin Malia was granted permission by Judge Daniel Shanes to introduce about a dozen instances when Shaquan Allen verbally and physically assaulted staff members, peers and police during his nearly three-year stay at Allendale Association homes in Wisconsin and Lake Villa.


Shanes said Malia was not allowed to introduce another dozen complaints filed against Allen unless Malia and co-counsel Eric Rinehart develop more concrete information about the instances before the trial of former Allendale employee James Davis.

Davis, 39, remains in custody at the Lake County jail on $500,000 bail on charges of involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice stemming from Allen's March 30, 2016, death.

No trial date has been set because of numerous motions and evidence the two sides need to collect.

Authorities said Allen, 16, of Chicago, died when Davis and employee Justin Serak tried to get him to his room during a confrontation on the campus. Serak grabbed the teen's legs while Davis applied a chokehold, authorities say.

Allen was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, where he was later pronounced dead, officials said.

Davis and Serak initially told investigators Allen slipped on a wet floor, but witnesses contradicted those claims, authorities said.

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Serak, 29, of Grafton, Wisconsin, later admitted to police he and Davis made up the story to make the death appear accidental, officials said. Serak was charged with obstruction of justice, but the charges were dropped after he agreed to testify against Davis.

Malia pushed to introduce Allen's prior violent behavior under rules that allow such evidence if a defendant claims self-defense to justify a homicide. Malia said Davis was "acting in self-defense for himself and others" when he restrained Allen.

In the motion argued in court Wednesday, Malia noted 25 instances of Allen's violent behavior recorded by staff of Allendale or by varying police departments. They included Allen's hitting a staff member with a chair, biting a staff member during a restraint, and threatening a Kenosha County police officer, Malia or Shanes read in court.

Malia said Allen was "an aggressive and violent young man," and whoever decides the case should have a "full picture of how violent Mr. Allen was."

Assistant Lake County State's Attorney Lauren Kalcheim Rothenberg said the trial "should not turn into character assassination of a dead person."

Malia said the statement was "offensive," the information is relevant, and the death is a "tragic situation."

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