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Man sentenced for strangling girlfriend, dismembering remains found in coolers in his apartment; Sexually assaulting inmate

Wade Allen (Courtroom photo from the Sturgis Journal; Allen's mugshot from the St. Joseph County Sheriff's Office via Coldwater, Michigan's WTVB)

Wade Allen (Courtroom photo from the Sturgis Journal; Allen’s mugshot from the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Office via Coldwater, Michigan’s WTVB)

A 39-year-old man was sentenced this week for strangling and dismembering his on-again, off-again girlfriend, whose remains were found in coolers in his apartment, and sexually assaulting a fellow inmate who snitched on him in jail.

Wade Allen was sentenced Thursday after pleading no contest the day before his trial was about to start in January to charges in the murder and mutilation of his girlfriend, Kelly Jean Warner, in May 2019 and the sexual assault of a fellow inmate in the St. Joseph County Jail in 2020.

Allen was sentenced to 39 to 60 years in prison for second-degree homicide, two to five years for attempted dismemberment and mutilation, and 38 months to five years for attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct that he will serve consecutive to the murder sentence, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced.

His sentencing includes restitution for the victim’s burial expenses, recovery of court costs of prosecution, associated fines, and lifetime registration with the state’s sex offender registry.

Defense attorney Luke Nofsinger argued Allen suffered in near solitary jail confinement over the last four years, the Sturgis Journal reported. The judge pointed out that a defense appeal of the search and the psychiatric evaluation delayed the case.

Allen never admitted to killing Warner, who had diabetes and other health issues, the newspaper reported.

“I should have taken better care of her,” Allen cried to the judge, the paper reported. “I was trying to take care of myself, let alone someone else.

“I have never, and I did not want her to die at all.”

“I asked the family to please forgive me. They don’t have to. But with or without their forgiveness, I have to forgive myself.”

Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagamann-Clark said Allen had a long-established cycle of abusing her and other intimate partners for years and was prepared to enter that evidence at trial, the newspaper reported.

The victim of the jail sexual assault, who appeared on video from a state prison, told the judge the conduct “was not consensual,” adding Allen was “a monster,” the Journal reported.

Allen was arrested on May 22, 2019, after Sturgis police officers responded to a tip regarding the murder and dismemberment of Allen’s girlfriend.

The tipster told police that Allen and Warner had been in an on-again, off-again relationship for a few years, that Warner “kind of got mouthy with him, he backhanded her and accidentally killed her,” according to court documents.

Defendant further informed Steven that he kept Warner in the bathtub for “a little while” before “chopping her up” and putting her in the cooler, court documents said.

When an officer asked him about the cooler’s contents, he responded he was getting ready for summer.

Officers found the mutilated remains of Allen’s girlfriend in two coolers in a warrantless search. Allen appealed, arguing the search without a warrant was unconstitutional, but the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that a warrant would have been issued, and the body would have been found.

While in jail, Allen spoke to his cellmates about having strangled his girlfriend to death. After finding out that the cellmates had passed this information on to the authorities, Allen sexually assaulted one of the inmates when they were re-housed together, according to the Michigan Attorney General.

“No sentence will be enough to overcome the grief of the victim’s family or the anguish suffered by the victims, but hopefully today’s plea will allow the healing process to begin,” said Nessel at the time of Allen’s plea acceptance in January.

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