Millionaire gets life in prison in ex-wife's slaying

SAN ANTONIO - A millionaire businessman was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for arranging the murder of his ex-wife while she was home with her toddler quadruplets.

U.S. District Judge Edward C. Prado gave Allen Blackthorne two life prison terms, fined him $250,000 and ordered him to pay $17,000 restitution for his role in the death of Sheila Bellush, who was shot and whose throat was slit in her Sarasota, Fla., home in 1997.

After the killing, two of Bellush's 2-year-old quadruplets by her second husband were found crawling in her blood.

Blackthorne has maintained his innocence.

Federal guidelines required a life sentence for Blackthorne after he was convicted in July of interstate conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and interstate domestic violence.

''For the past three years, I've been wanting to say something to my dad that would hurt him as much as he hurt me,'' said 15-year-old Daryl Bellush, Blackthorne's younger daughter with Bellush.

She said she wanted him to ''spend the rest of his life in jail and die there.'' Then, ''I can go out and celebrate.''

Bellush's sister, Kerry Bladorn, who is now raising Daryl in Oregon, told the judge she hoped Blackthorne would be locked up for life and come to a ''realization of the pain he has caused our entire family.''

Blackthorne declined to make a statement in court. Outside, his attorney, David Botsford, said he is appealing the conviction.

''We believe he will be vindicated,'' Botsford said.

Blackthorne was the last of four men to be convicted or plead guilty in Bellush's death.

Jose Luis Del Toro Jr., the hitman, pleaded guilty and got two consecutive life sentences. The cousin who hired him, Sammy Gonzales, was given 19 years in prison. And Daniel Rocha, a golfing buddy of Blackthorne's who asked Gonzales to find a hit man, was sentenced to life behind bars.

Bellush and Blackthorne divorced in 1989 and had a bitter custody dispute over their two daughters. In 1997, Bellush moved to Florida, and six weeks later, she was killed.

Prosecutors said Blackthorne offered $54,000 for the murder plus a bonus if he regained custody of the girls, who had been adopted by Jamie Bellush.

During the trial, Blackthorne admitted he once threatened to kill his ex-wife because he thought she was a negligent mother. But he denied arranging her murder.

Blackthorne made his fortune selling medical devices. His Vancouver, Wash.-based business, International Rehabilitative Sciences, sells muscle stimulators under the name RS Medical.


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