On Tuesday, the attorney for accused murderer Blake Schindler attempted to blame the killing of Kenneth Allen Jr. on someone other than his client, but Judge Michael Wright was not convinced.
As part of his alternative perpetrator defense, Schindler’s attorney, Joseph Hadican, called three witnesses who testified about former Franklin County sheriff’s lieutenant, Jason Grellner, Derek Schindler and a third associate of Allen’s named Scott Jackson.
Hadican argued that all three men had relationships with Allen, 70, that could have given them a motive to murder the former probation officer and drug counselor.
Schindler, Timothy D. Wonish, 33, and Whitney D. Robins, 30, were all accused in the death of Allen, who was found in his Washington area home in November 2016 lying in a pool of blood with his hands and feet bound behind him.
Wonish and Robins were sentenced in October 2018 to seven years in the Missouri Department of Corrections on the charge of involuntary manslaughter. They had been in custody since Nov. 4, 2016.
After the 30 minutes of testimony and arguments by Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Becker, Judge Wright denied the motion and none of the testimony will be permitted in the murder trial that begins Aug. 27.
“Nothing the court has heard in argument comes to the alternative perpetrator level,” Wright said. “This will all be precluded from the trial.”
Wright also warned Hadican if he attempted to use the alternative perpetrator defense in the trial he could be held in contempt.
In addition, Judge Wright granted a motion by Becker to eliminate questions on the lack of testing for fingerprints.
“The state will enter testimony from officers as to what they did,” Hadican said. “We want to present what they didn’t do. I’m aware I can’t make a big deal that there aren’t any fingerprints.”
Judge Wright, 12th District judge in Warren County, was appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court to hear the case in January 2018.
Much of the testimony Tuesday involved Grellner, who Ken and Jan Allen filed a lawsuit against earlier in the summer of 2016 after a drug counseling contract had been canceled by Franklin County due to Ken Allen allegedly giving money and/or drugs to recovering addicts under his supervision, according to statements made in court.
The petitioners alleged that Grellner, over a period of years, coerced drug court clients to act as confidential informants in drug cases, which caused “a significant decrease in the success of drug court participants” because they “would be forced to associate with other drug users/distributors. . .”
The lawsuit was filed days before the Aug. 2, 2016, Republican primary election for Franklin County sheriff in which Grellner was facing fellow sheriff’s lieutenant, Steve Pelton, who won the primary and won the seat.
Hadican argued in court that Grellner had made threats over the phone to Allen stating “drop the lawsuit or there is going to be problems, watch your back, and drop the lawsuit before there is a problem.”
Blake Cruz, a friend, informal employee and the man who found Allen’s body on the morning of Nov. 3, 2016, testified he knew Allen had concerns about his safety.
“I worked for Ken Allen doing landscaping, moving furniture, and I worked at his warehouse,” Cruz testified. “I was aware of the lawsuit because I read it in the newspaper.”
On Nov. 2, the day before Allen was found dead, Cruz was with Allen preparing to help him move.
Cruz testified Allen was on edge and was paranoid about the lawsuit.
He added he was aware Allen had other lawsuits pending, but none of them involved a candidate running for sheriff.
“He was worried about the situation and safety,” Cruz said. “He had installed security cameras outside the residence.”
On cross examination Becker argued there had been instances of people stealing things from Allen’s home and that was the true reason for the security cameras being installed.
Hadican stated Derek Schindler, the older brother of the accused, had a relationship with and was given money by Allen several times.
Derek Schindler overdosed at Allen’s home on Nov. 1, and was taken to the hospital by Allen, according to Hadican.
Hadican added that after the overdose, Schindler’s mother stated “whoever did this will pay for it.”
Anna Rogers, the girlfriend of Derek Schindler in the fall of 2016, was called to the stand and testified about her observations of Schindler’s relationship with Allen.
“I remember going to his (Allen’s) house anytime he needed money, but I couldn’t go inside,” Rogers said. “When Derek would come out he was usually very uncomfortable. He would have money and would want to be out of the situation quickly.”
Rogers added she would then go with Schindler to use the money he allegedly was given by Allen to buy drugs.
When Derek Schindler overdosed on Nov. 1, Rogers said Allen came to his hospital room at Mercy in Washington.
“He said ‘Hi’ and then asked me to leave the room,” Rogers said. “When I came back in, he had his hand on top of Derek’s hand in the hospital bed.”
On cross examination, Becker questioned Rogers on how long Derek Schindler was in the hospital and it was determined he had not been discharged before Allen’s body was found on Nov. 3 by Cruz.
“Do you have any firsthand knowledge that Derek Schindler is the individual who murdered Ken Allen?” Becker asked.
Rogers replied “No.”
Barbara Peterson, the mother of Scott Jackson, testified her son was having problems with drugs and lived with Allen in October and November 2016.
“I had a conversation with Ken (Allen) prior to Nov. 3, asking him to please not give Scott money,” Peterson said. “Scott would use the money to buy anything he could to get high. I know he did it one more time after my request.”
Peterson added when her son learned of Allen’s death he was “devastated.”
“I talked to my son around the time he died and he was crying,” she said.