By Gregg Jones
Missourian Staff Writer
The daughter of a slain counselor and former probation officer is calling for a jury trial for three suspects accused in his death.
Kathy Allen, the daughter of Kenneth Allen Jr., 70 — who died in November 2016 during a burglary at his Washington area home — said a newly struck plea deal for the suspects is not a stringent enough sentence.
According to Franklin County Prosecutor Bob Parks, Timothy D. Wonish, 32, Whitney D. Robins, 29, and Blake S. Schindler, 18, 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.
The defendants, all of Union, 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 of Allen, which occurred Nov. 3, 2016, at his home south of Washington.
Former Circuit Judge Gael D. Wood, who retired in October 2017, rejected a plea deal Oct. 24 stating it was “too lenient.”
Under that deal Wonish, Robins and Schindler 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.
“I am amazed that Bob Parks is offering a plea deal that is even more lenient than the last one, which Judge Wood denied as being ‘too lenient,’ ” Kathy Allen said.
“Bob Parks should reinstate the original charges against the three defendants which came from the grand jury,” she added. “These defendants should face a jury of their peers under the original charges, and Bob Parks should seek a special prosecutor if he is unable to prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law.”
Allen’s body was found at his Elmwood Estates Drive residence after 8 a.m. Nov. 3.
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.
“I am very much against my dad’s death being called something it is not. It is not involuntary manslaughter. It is murder,” Allen said. “It is not positional asphyxia as the prosecutor and others in law enforcement insist. The forensic pathologist stated the cause of death both on the death certificate and explained to me on the phone how he surmises it happened from the evidence on my dad’s body — asphyxiation from neck compression.”
Circuit Judge Craig Hellmann will decide on the plea deal Feb. 6 at 1:30 p.m. Parks stated if Hellmann accepts the deal, the defendants will be sentenced that day.
“It is my understanding that they have all agreed to the deal and they are willing to plead guilty,” said Parks, who explained that under state law, the defendants would be required to serve 85 percent of the sentence, or almost six years.
Parks added that Wonish and Robins have been in custody at the Franklin County Jail since their arrest in November 2016 and already have served more than a year.
Schindler was released on his own recognizance May 3 and ordered to wear a GPS tracking device.
Kathy Allen stated that she was told by Parks that a trial would incriminate her father.
“Someone on the defense and prosecution is accusing my dad of a crime, including Bob Parks’ bigoted remarks that my dad is a pedophile. My dad was gay. There is no evidence that my dad was a pedophile,” she said. “Bob Parks is soft-pedaling this plea deal to supposedly spare my family the trauma of accusations coming out against my dad.
“Who is on trial here?” she asked. “My dad was murdered. Accusations against my dad, be they true or false, are not relevant in a murder trial. Someone is performing a character assassination against my dad to get away with murder. My dad is no longer here to defend himself.”