Judge rejects plea deal for Franklin County murder suspects

UNION, MO - A victory for the family of a murder victim in Franklin County. A judge today rejected a plea deal for two murder suspects.

Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Gael Wood rejected the prosecutor's plea deal to reduce the charges from second degree murder to involuntary manslaughter for two suspects in the killing of 70-year-old Ken Allen. Judge Wood called that deal too lenient.

Allen died during a burglary at his home in Washington, Missouri in November of 2016 after his hands and feet were bound. He died of asphyxiation due to neck compression, and his death was ruled a homicide. Three people were arrested.

Kathy Allen, the victim's daughter, said she was pleased with the judge's decision, "Extreme relief. I mean I can’t  say joy because my dad is no less dead; and we still suffer the trauma of his murder, and we suffer the trauma of this plea deal that was attempted. In the moment I’m feeling such relief I’m him going to  go ahead and smile."

Franklin County Prosecutor Bob Parks said, "I’m not surprised. He always had the option of doing that. We will go back and see what we are going to do now on charges. I was a little disappointed that he didn’t go ahead and recuse himself since this is his last official day in office.”

The prosecutor amended the second degree murder charge to involuntary manslaughter for two suspects Whitney Robins and Timothy Wonish. Family and friends of Allen cheered as they left the court house after the judge rejected the reduction in charges. They had been protesting against the reduction in charges outside the courthouse Friday afternoon.

Franklin County Prosecutor Bob Parks said he didn't know if he would renegotiate a plea deal or stay with second degree murder charges. The judge set another hearing for November 14th to set a trial. A third suspect Blake Schindler was expected to plead guilty at another time.