Circuit Judge Craig Hellmann recused himself Monday from the case against three people accused in the death of Ken Allen Jr., a well-known drug counselor.
Now the Missouri Supreme Court will appoint a judge to hear the involuntary manslaughter case against Union residents Timothy D. Wonish, 32, Whitney D. Robins, 29, and Blake S. Schindler, 18.
Judge Hellmann was the third judge slated to hear the case. In February 2017, Judge Ike Lamke recused himself from the case. Then in March it was assigned to Judge Gael D. Wood, who retired in October 2017. The case was assigned to Judge Hellmann in December.
Allen, 70, died Nov. 3, 2016, during a burglary at his Washington area home.
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.
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.
According to Franklin County Prosecutor Bob Parks, the defendants indicated they would plead guilty to the charge, with no Alford plea. Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but concedes that authorities have enough evidence to convict.
A court date had been scheduled in front of Judge Hellmann for Feb. 8.
Parks said he’s hopeful an out-of-area judge will be assigned to hear the case.
Kathy Allen, the daughter of Ken Allen, has been calling for harsher charges and stiffer sentences for Wonish, Robins and Schindler.
In an email to The Missourian sent Monday, she stated that the latest charge of involuntary manslaughter will not bring justice for the death of her father.
“Parks has tied the hands of the judges by dropping his plea deal and letting them merely plead guilty to the only charge he has left for them,” Kathy Allen said. “The judges are doing their job, but are forced into this chess match along with my family, and my dad is still murdered.”
The defendants 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 at his home south of Washington.
Judge Wood rejected a plea deal Oct. 24, 2016, 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.
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.