Millionaire Convicted in Wife's Murder

ByABC News
July 6, 2000, 8:26 PM

S A N   A N T O N I O, June 6 -- A Texas millionaire was convicted today ofarranging the murder of his ex-wife, who was found shot in herkitchen with her throat slit as her 2-year-old quadruplets crawledin her blood.

Allen Blackthorne, 45, was the last of four people suspected inthe murder-for-hire of Sheila Bellush to be convicted or to pleadguilty. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison withoutparole.

The verdict came hours after the hitman pleaded guilty inFlorida. Jose Luis Del Toro Jr., 24, then sang a song in courtasking for forgiveness. He was given two consecutive lifesentences.

Bellush, 35, was slain in Sarasota, Fla., in 1997. Her body wasdiscovered by her 13-year-old daughter from her marriage toBlackthorne. Her quadruplets from her second marriage were crawlingaround unharmed, wearing their life jackets for use in the backyardswimming pool.

Heated Custody BattleProsecutors portrayed Blackthorne as a man who hated his ex-wifeand who, after a string of custody battles, offered up to $54,000to have her killed, with a bonus if he regained custody of his twodaughters, who had been adopted by Bellushs second husband.Prosecutors said he had used private investigators to track downBellush after she moved from Texas.

During the trial, Blackthorne took the stand and admitted heonce threatened to kill Bellush because he thought she was anegligent mother. But he denied arranging her murder.

The federal jury took 33 hours to find Blackthorne guilty ofinterstate conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and interstatedomestic violence. He faces sentencing Nov. 2.

Joy and DisappointmentThe courtroom was silent as the verdict was read becausemarshals had warned against any outbursts. But once her elevatorreached the ground floor, Gene Smith, Bellushs mother, spread herarms and yelled, Hallelujah! as the doors opened.

God bless all of these people who stood up for my daughter,she said. God bless these wonderful people.