A grand jury on Thursday indicted Benjamin Allen on a first-degree murder charge in the killing of 17-year-old Elijah Rizvan on a Palm Coast street during a planned drug deal on July 12. Allen, 16, turns 17 in three weeks.
State Attorney R.J. Larizza opted to try Allen as an adult. If convicted, he may face life in prison, but he is not eligible for the death penalty.
Allen, a resident of 70 S. Riverbend Drive, #723, in Palm Coast, is accused of shooting Rizvan once with a handgun in front of 7 Westford Lane, where Rizvan had been visiting his girlfriend. Rizvan was in the street at the time of the shooting.
Rizvan’s girlfriend, who was also present at the time of the shooting and called 911, revealed to authorities that a friend of Rizvan’s, a student at Flagler Palm Coast High School, told her he had put a certain individual in touch with Rizvan “shortly before the murder,” according to Allen’s arrest report. the friend sent her a Snapchat picture of the screen name of the individual.
The friend, according to Allen’s arrest report, told detectives that he’d been contacted on July 12 by someone interested in buying marijuana. The friend “reached out to his friend Rizvan and asked if he could supply the drugs to the Snapchat contact,” the arrest report states. “A price was agreed upon between the parties and [the friend] gave the address of 7 Westford Lane to the Snapchat contact. He let Rizvan know that the Snapchat contact was on his way to purchase the narcotics.”
The sheriff would later allege that the deal was to have been over an amount of marijuana worth $125. (See the timeline leading up to the murder here.)
Using various investigative techniques, detectives matched the screen name to an address at 126 Island Estates Parkway, where they located a vehicle matching one seen on surveillance video within moments near the scene of the shooting. Three witnesses were subsequently interviewed. All three were with Allen at the time of the shooting. One of the witnesses stepped out of the car with Allen and saw Allen approach Rizvan, according to the arrest report, grab Rizvan, demand narcotics, then shoot him, immediately returning to the car and fleeing with the witness who’d stepped out. One of the witnesses was driving the car, and dropped off Allen at his Riverview Bend house. The others returned to Island Estates Parkway.
Soon apprehended, Allen acknowledged traveling to the W Section with the three witnesses, but denied being involved in the shooting.
Allen is represented by Rosemary Peoples, an assistant public defender who specializes in murder cases. The day after his arrest, he signed a document invoking his right to remain silent and his refusal to speak to any jail psychologist or any jail minister, appear in any line-up, or submit to any polygraph test without Peoples present.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Dunton.
The indictment was handed down shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday. Allen had his first appearance before a judge, who ordered him held without bond. Allen was then processed at the Flagler County jail and sent to a jail in Jacksonville, because the Flagler jail isn’t equipped to hold juveniles. It isn’t yet clear where Allen will be held in the longer term as he awaits trial. He is to be arraigned before Circuit Judge Terence Perkins on Sept. 9 at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 401 at the Flagler County courthouse.
Allen is the second Flagler County juvenile in two months to be indicted and tried as an adult on a first-degree murder charge. On May 3, Marion Gavins Jr. was indicted on a similar charge in the shooting death of Curtis Gray, 18, in Palm Coast on April 13. Gavins had a long record in the juvenile justice system. For Allen, his arrest was his very first contact with law enforcement in his young life.