New Ken Allen USE

A lawsuit has been filed to have the Franklin County Prosecutor removed from three cases where the suspects are charged in the death of a former probation officer and drug counselor.

An organization called Justice for Ken filed a writ of mandamus Feb. 16 petitioning the courts to remove Robert Parks from the cases of Timothy D. Wonish, 32, Whitney D. Robins, 29, and Blake S. Schindler, 18.

The defendants are charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Ken Allen Jr., 70, who died Nov. 3, 2016, during a burglary at his Washington area home.

The petitioners for the writ, also called relators, are Allen’s daughter, Kathy Allen, and county resident, Vincent Bandermann. Justice for Ken is being represented by attorney Michael A. Benner.

The writ is being heard in Franklin County Circuit Court by Judge Darrell Missey, Jefferson County. Missey was appointed judge after 20th Circuit Judge Craig Hellmann recused himself from the case.

The petition alleges Parks should be removed from the Wonish, Robins and Schindler cases due to “conflicts of interest, failure to act on duty by prosecuting attorney and abuse of discretion by prosecuting attorney.”

The defendants each have been offered a plea deal to serve seven years on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. They are set to appear in front of 12th District Judge Michael S. Wright Friday, March 2, at 2 p.m.

Judge Wright was appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court Friday, Jan. 26, to hear the case against Wonish, Robins and Schindler after Franklin County Circuit Judge Craig Hellmann recused himself from the case.

The suspects were located at a South St. Louis County residence shortly before midnight Nov. 4, 2016. They were in possession of items that belonged to Allen, according to investigators with the St. Louis Major Case Squad.

Conflict of Interest

The petition alleges a conflict of interest due to a lawsuit filed in August 2016 by Ken Allen, Jan Allen and Meramec Recovery Center Inc.

That suit was dropped in December 2016 at the request of the plaintiffs.

The suit did not name Parks, but it named former assistant prosecuting attorney Jennifer Bartlett.

Other defendants named in the suit were Jason Grellner, formerly with the sheriff’s department; Franklin County; Bridgeway Behavioral Health Foundation Board Inc.; Jennifer King; George Lombardi, director of the Missouri Department of Corrections; Carey Curran; and Sherri Huxol.

The suit alleged that members of the Franklin County Drug Court conspired to convince a judge and the Office of State Courts Administrator (OSCA) to terminate a company’s contract as a treatment provider for the drug court.

The suit alleged that Grellner forced drug court participants to act as confidential informants, “all with the assent of defendants Bridgeway, King, Curran and Huxol.”

The plaintiffs further alleged that “Grellner, Bartlett, King, Curran and Huxol, individually and/or collectively, induced OSCA to terminate plaintiff Meramec’s contract prior to its expiration by causing OSCA to believe that plaintiff Meramec was unfit to serve as drug court treatment provider.”

According to court records, Kathy Allen stated she made an audio recording of Parks commenting that there was no conflict after she questioned the prosecutor about the lawsuit.

‘Neglect of Duties’

The writ states Parks was in “neglect of his duties” by offering the defendants new plea deals after previous deals were rejected.

The suspects were indicted last year by a Franklin County grand jury on the charges of felony murder, first-degree burglary and receiving stolen property in the death Ken Allen.

Under a plea deal they each would have served 10 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections on the burglary charge, and seven years on the reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter. The involuntary murder and burglary charges would have run concurrently. The receiving stolen property charge would have been dismissed.

The plea deals were rejected by former Circuit Judge Gael D. Wood in October 2017.

In January, the suspects agreed to a plea deal that dismisses a first-degree burglary charge if the defendants plead guilty to Class C felonies of receiving stolen property and involuntary manslaughter. Under the deal, the suspects would each serve two seven-year concurrent terms.

Since then, the burglary and receiving stolen property charges have been dropped and the defendants now are only charged with involuntary manslaughter.

In January, the suspects agreed to a plea deal that dismisses a first-degree burglary charge if the defendants plead guilty to Class C felonies of receiving stolen property and involuntary manslaughter. Under the deal, the suspects would each serve two seven-year concurrent terms.

That deal was rejected by Circuit Judge Craig Hellmann who was assigned to the case in December 2017. Later in January, Hellmann also recused himself in January.

Since then the burglary and receiving stolen property charges have been dropped and the defendants now are charged with only involuntary manslaughter.

The writ of mandamus also states that Parks’ statements to the Allen family conflict with the medical examiner’s cause of death.

According to the Kathy Allen, Parks stated Ken Allen was killed when the defendants allegedly were “suffocating him.”

Kathy Allen contends that she was told by the medical examiner that Ken Allen was choked, not that he was “sat on” and suffocated.