Appeals court upholds conviction in Sheryia Grant case
‘Circumstances would allow a rational jury to believe that an injured Grant was in the trunk trying to escape’
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) -An appeals court has upheld a 10-year prison sentence for a man in prison for tampering with evidence connected with a missing Kilgore woman and her unborn baby.
Allen Lamont Sutton was convicted based on circumstantial evidence he claimed was insufficient. Appeals court justices disagreed, and on Wednesday, they issued an opinion affirming Sutton’s conviction.
The evidence in question involves a repossessed Crown Victoria that detectives linked to Sutton and girlfriend Laneshia Young. In the trunk of that car, a forensics officer found the blood of Sheryia Grant and Sutton’s fingerprint on a gas can.
What they didn’t find was the trunk liner, spare tire, jack, or Grant’s body.
“Specifically, he [Sutton] claims there is no evidence he did anything with the trunk liner either directly or indirectly. We disagree,” justices said in the opinion.
Sheryia Grant is still missing. Family members said she was eight months pregnant with Sutton’s child when she disappeared in August 2016. Testimony in the appeal indicates what may have happened to her.
“Law enforcement testified that the wiring looked as though someone had tried to pull it out from inside the trunk as if that person were trying to escape the trunk,” the opinion states.
“These circumstances would allow a rational jury to believe that an injured Grant was in the trunk trying to escape.”
Justices also wrote that key evidence in the case came from Sutton himself during interrogation.
“Questioning Sutton, officers asked why there would be blood in his car. Sutton answered that he did not go in the trunk. That raised officers’ suspicions of Sutton, because they had told Sutton only that blood had been found in the car, not that it had been found specifically in the trunk.”
Sutton had scratches on his arms and legs that he said he got while running from officers when they sought to arrest him, investigators noted.
It was circumstantial evidence that the appeals court justices believe sustains Sutton’s conviction for tampering with evidence to impair a missing person’s investigation.
Sutton’s appeal also claimed the repetition of Young’s name in the charge to the jury directed “undue attention” to Young’s possible involvement in Grant’s disappearance and was improper. The appeals court disagreed.
Sutton is up for parole in this case in June. His release date is Christmas Day 2021.
Sutton is also under indictment on a charge of criminal solicitation to commit capital murder in Gregg County, for which he has pleaded not guilty. A trial date has not been set.
Laneshia Young is serving an 8-year sentence out of Rusk County for tampering with physical evidence with intent to impair a missing person’s investigation. The offense date for that charge is Aug. 19, 2016, the day Grant was reported missing.
A third person arrested in the case was a juvenile at the time and has not been publicly identified.
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