It took a Franklin County jury 40 minutes Thursday to return guilty verdicts for a man accused of killing a well-known drug counselor in 2016.
Blake S. Schindler, 20, was found guilty by a jury of five women and seven men of felony counts related to the death of Kenneth Allen Jr., 70. Schindler previously was living in the Union area, but court records show his address in St. Louis.
In closing arguments during the final day of the three-day trial, Prosecuting Attorney Matt Becker told the jury that Schindler and two others — Timothy D. Wonish, 32, and Whitney D. Robins, 30 — intended to steal from Allen “to feed their drug habit” when they went to his home at 5 a.m. Nov. 3, 2016.
The jury returned with guilty verdicts for second-degree murder, first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery and felonious restraint. The trial was held at the Franklin County Judicial Center in front of Michael S. Wright, 12th Circuit judge in Warren County.
During his closing arguments, Becker told the jury that when the suspects went to Allen’s home, Schindler knocked on the door and Allen opened it, presumably because Allen knew Schindler.
“Whitney Robins described a scene to the detective who interviewed her of Ken Allen immediately being attacked by Blake Schindler and Tim Wonish,” he told the jury. “Whitney Robins wrapped a lamp cord around Ken Allen’s legs after she was told to make him stop kicking — either Timothy Wonish or Blake Schindler bound his hands with a phone charge cord.”
When Allen was found, he was lying in a pool of blood with his hands bound behind him and feet wrapped up with a lamp cord.
“At some point during this altercation, one of them applied pressure to Ken Allen’s neck, causing his death by asphyxiation due to neck compression,” Becker said in the closing arguments.
The prosecutor also alleged in the courtroom that Schindler directed Robins to a dresser where she stole credit cards and Ken Allen’s prescription medication.
“After they had Ken Allen tied up face down on the floor, the evidence suggests that the three of them immediately started stealing,” Becker told the jury.
He said the suspects then drove to North St. Louis County using Allen’s credit cards a couple of times along the way, before purchasing heroin for Robins and Wonish.
After presenting the guilty verdicts, the jury later returned with verdicts sentencing Schindler to a total of 80 years in prison on the charges.
Ultimately, Judge Wright will sentence Schindler Nov. 8. He could order a Sentencing Assessment Report (SAR) before handing down the sentence.
“The judge will make the decision after a SAR on whether the sentences are concurrent or consecutive,” said Becker.
The jury’s verdicts were: 30 years each on the counts of murder and robbery. For burglary, the jury returned a verdict of 15 years, and five years for restraint.
“I feel that our team presented a strong case, the witnesses, civilian and law enforcement, were well prepared,” Becker told The Missourian.
“This office and other law enforcement professionals in Franklin County and beyond put a lot of time and resources into gathering evidence to help me emphasize the points that matter,” he added. “I am very grateful to all of the employees of the Franklin County prosecuting attorney’s office and our law enforcement community.”
Last week, the court heard testimony from Franklin County Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Gershom Norfleet, who performed the autopsy and determined the cause of Allen’s death to be asphyxiation due to neck compression.
Dr. Norfleet, who has performed more than 2,000 autopsies, said this type of manual strangulation occurs when pressure is applied to the neck by hands or an object. He said Allen’s face showed signs of petechial hemorrhage, which are red spots caused by bursting blood vessels due to restriction of blood flow to the head.
Allen was found dead later that day by a man who went to his home to do yard work.
The suspects were located at a residence shortly before midnight Nov. 4, 2016, in South St. Louis County and were in possession of items that belonged to Allen, according to investigators with the St. Louis Major Case Squad.
Court records state that Robins made statements to investigators during her arrest admitting that she was present at the time of the killing and that she participated in tying up Allen’s legs.
Schindler and Robins are half siblings. Wonish and Robins married while in custody Oct. 14, 2017.
Authorities allege Robins initially told investigators that she, Wonish and Schindler were together when they entered Allen’s home, however, she recanted those statements during the sentencing hearing last October.
Robins stated she only remembers “flashes” from that night, including her and Wonish tying Allen’s feet with a lamp cord.
Wonish denied that Schindler was present when he and Robins broke into the home, tied up Allen and then left. He told the court he was “high” at the time they broke into Allen’s home.