The next court hearing is slated for early 2018 for three suspects accused in the death of a former probation officer and drug counselor.
On Tuesday, Circuit Judge Gael D. Wood set a hearing for Jan. 3, 2018, for Timothy D. Wonish, 32, and Whitney D. Robins, 29, and Blake S. Schindler, 18, all of Union, who are charged in the death of Kenneth Allen Jr., 70.
On Oct. 20, Judge Wood rejected the plea deals for Wonish and Robins. They then withdrew their guilty pleas before the Nov. 14 hearing was set in Franklin County Circuit Court.
The suspects were indicted earlier this 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.
On Oct. 30, Franklin County Prosecutor Bob Parks filed a motion for a change of judge. The motion was denied by Judge Wood Tuesday.
Judge Wood officially retired Oct. 20. He was appointed a senior judge Oct. 22 through Dec. 31.
Judge Wood’s replacement will be appointed by Gov. Eric Greitens. Any open cases, including the Wonish, Robins and Schindler cases, will likely be transferred to that judge.
They were charged with felony murder because Allen died during the commission of another crime, burglary.
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.
Under the plea deals Wonish and Robins 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 bargains were rejected by Judge Wood after he reviewed a Sentencing Assessment Report.
Schindler was released on his own recognizance May 3 and ordered to wear a GPS tracking device. His hearing had been scheduled for Monday. There had not been a plea deal offered to Schindler.
Kathy Allen, the daughter of Ken Allen, has been vocal in her opposition to the plea deal offered to Wonish and Robins, asking for the suspects to be charged with second-degree murder.
Last month she told The Missourian she will continue to fight for a stricter sentence for those accused in the death of her father.
“To me, with the evidence that I am aware of, this is a slam-dunk second-degree murder case,” she said.
“This is completely outrageous to me and insulting to me, and the memory and legacy of my dad,” Kathy Allen had said about the plea deal. “His entire adult life my dad had given service to Franklin County and the surrounding area by helping people recover from drugs and alcohol.”