Two people have already pleaded guilty to manslaughter and sentenced to seven years each in prison. Now the third person accused of killing former drug counselor Kenneth Allen Jr., 70, is less than two weeks away from his murder trial.
On Tuesday, Blake Schindler, who is charged with second-degree felony murder, and felonies of first-degree burglary and robbery, felonious restraint and receiving stolen property, was in Franklin County court as his attorney Joseph Hadican attempted to place the blame of Allen’s death away from his client and direct suspicion toward three other individuals.
But, those attempts were quickly thwarted by Warren County 12th District Associate Circuit Judge Michael Wright after counterarguments by Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Becker.
Before the alternative perpetrator hearing, Judge Wright did take care of some pretrial housekeeping.
Schindler was released on his own recognizance in May of 2017 by then 20th Judicial Circuit Presiding Judge Gael Wood to attend a drug treatment facility.
He was arrested in late July after violating conditions of his bond and has been in custody at the Franklin County Adult Detention Center since that time.
He appeared in court this week wearing an orange jumpsuit and both his hands and feet were shackled.
At the hearing Judge Wright approved allowing Schindler to change from prison garb during a three-day trial to begin Aug. 27.
He will not be shackled in front of the jury but instead will wear a device called a “stun cuff” on one of his ankles.
Judge Wright said his understanding of the device will allow bailiffs in the courtroom to remotely “Tase” Schindler if the need arises.
Schindler, Timothy D. Wonish, 33, and Whitney D. Robins, 30, were all accused in the death of Allen, who was found dead in his Washington area home in November 2016.
When Allen was found, he was 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.
It is alleged that the three suspects planned to kill Allen. The plan was developed in retaliation for an incident that occurred two days prior to Allen’s death when the victim allegedly took Schindler’s brother, Derek Schindler, to the hospital as a result of an apparent drug overdose, according to court records.
Wonish and Robins will be called to testify at Schindler’s trial and Becker has confirmed they will appear in person at the Franklin County Judicial Center.
Wonish is serving hiss prison sentence at the Ozark Correctional Center in Fordland. Robins is incarcerated at the Chillicothe Correctional Center in Chillicothe.
Schindler and Robins are half siblings. Wonish and Robins married while in custody Oct. 14, 2017.
Also on Tuesday, Judge Wright, Becker and Hadican agreed that 12 jurors will be used for the trial with two additional alternates.
Because of the higher profile of the case, a pool of 75 to 80 people will be called Tuesday, Aug. 27, to be narrowed down.
Judge Wright said he would like to start the trial as quickly as possible after jury selection is made and instructed the attorneys to have their witnesses ready to go.
Judge Wright was appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court to hear the case in January 2018.