Former Prosecutor Buescher on the Allen Case

On February 8, 2018 the Washington Missourian newspaper published a letter to the editor from former prosecutor Dan Buescher (1970-1981). The title is “Conflict of Interest in the Allen Case”.

Here is the text:

To The Editor:

In the first place, nearly any death that occurs in the commission of a first-degree burglary constitutes a felony murder and any prosecutor worth his pay knows this and could try the case to a conviction, especially when the coroner in this case reported that Mr. Allen’s death was caused by choking and not by the position in which the burglars had tied him up.

The coroner’s report sent from Parks’ office states this clearly as does the coroner’s later explanation.

Mr. Parks’ only explanation for the extremely lenient plea deal of seven years imprisonment, which at least two judges (Gael Wood and Craig Hellmann) have refused to accept as being too little (I assume), was the false statement that the cause of death was from Allen’s position while tied, not from an intentional choking.

 

Now Mr. Parks dismissed all other crimes committed, leaving only the “intentional manslaughter” charge, thereby tying the later judge’s hands. I wonder where Mr. Parks got his medical degree so that he thinks he can substitute his opinion for that of the only coroner who examined the body.

 

Further, the cause of death is immaterial in this case as it is still a felony murder. Mr. Parks also later claimed that Mr. Allen was a pedophile. I doubt that, since there is no record of any conviction.

If it were true, Parks should have prosecuted him to protect the children of Franklin County! Moreover, Mr. Parks and his office should have never touched this case since at the time of his death Ken Allen was suing Mr. Parks in civil court. In my opinion, this is a clear conflict of interest, calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor.

 

So the question remains: Why did Mr. Parks and his office stay in this case?

 

Emissourian link: Conflict of Interest in Allen Case

Next hearing date is March 2nd 2018

The next hearing for the murder cases is Friday March 2nd at 2pm. The hearing will be at 401 E Main St, Union MO in front of Judge Michael Wright.

The 3 defendants are pleading guilty to the charge, the only remaining charge prosecutor Parks has left for them, of Involuntary Manslaughter with the maximum sentence for that charge — 7 years. Prosecutor Parks has dropped Burglary 1 and reduced Murder 2 to Involuntary Manslaughter. I guess soon my family will get back from the evidence room the possessions these 3 defendants took from our house. We will never get my dad back.

This is not a plea agreement between the prosecution and the defense. This is a plea. Therefore, there is no plea deal for the judge to accept or reject. Prosecutor Parks has tied the hands of the judges. They can’t reject this.

Remember, on Jan 8, 2018 Judge Hellmann rejected as too lenient the plea deal Parks was offering whereby the defendants would plead guilty to Count 2 receiving stolen property and Count 3 Felony Murder amended to Involuntary Manslaughter, 7 years; Total time served: 7 years. On Oct 20, 2017 Judge Wood rejected as too lenient a plea deal which was LESS lenient than the one in January 2018.

Prosecutor Parks is more interested in offering plea deals and avoiding trials than obtaining truth and justice, or doing his job. Taking another person’s life is the greatest evil one can commit. Prosecutor Parks has worked very hard to be as lenient as possible to my dad’s killers. I presume you will see the final result of his work on this on Mar 2nd.

Still want to write letters? If you want to:

The Honorable Judge Michael Wright
104 West Booneslick
Warrenton, MO 63383

The following details on the case numbers and the defendants’ legal representation is publicly available information which can be obtained on MO Casenet:

State of Missouri v. Timothy Wonish 16AB-CR02348-01
Tim Wonish represented by public defender Jessica H Hoskins, Washington, MO

State of Missouri v. Whitney Robins 17AB-CR00659
Whitney Robins represented by public defender Kenneth Robert Heineman Jr, Union, MO

State of Missouri v. Blake Schindler 16AB-CR02350-01
Blake Schindler represented by private attorney Patrick Robert Austermann, St Louis, MO

On Jan 22nd 2018, Judge Hellmann recuses

On January 22, 2018, Judge Craig Hellmann recused himself from the murder cases. Prosecutor Parks has tied the hands of the judges whereby a plea deal is not being offered, but merely a plea. This means that the judges have nothing to accept or reject.

Judge Hellmann did the only thing he could do in order to “reject” what Parks is trying to do by recusing himself.

Now that the last judge in the 20th Circuit in MO has recused, a new out of county judge must be appointed by the MO Supreme Court.

High Court to Appoint Judge in Allen Case — Third Judge Recuses Himself

Surprise meeting in Judge Hellmann’s chamber

On January 8, 2018, Judge Craig Hellmann called the prosecutor and the three defense attorneys into his chambers for a last minute unexpected meeting.

Judge Hellmann rejected as too lenient the plea deal Parks was offering whereby the defendants would plead guilty to Count 2 receiving stolen property and Count 3 Felony Murder amended to Involuntary Manslaughter, 7 years; Total time served: 7 years.

Since the judge did this, the February 6th hearing was postponed.

This SECOND plea deal prosecutor Parks put forth is even more lenient than the one that Judge Wood rejected in Oct 2017. WHY?

Immediately after Judge Hellmann rejected this second plea deal, Parks produced his third recommendation, which this time is not a plea deal. It is merely a plea on the part of the defendants, with no quid pro quo. See the following:

plea deal 1 — Aug 2017:
* Count 1 Burglary 1st, 10 years
* Count 2 receiving stolen property dismissed
* Count 3 Felony Murder amended to Involuntary Manslaughter, 7 years
Counts 1 and 3 to run concurrently, hence 10 years
** rejected as too lenient by Judge Wood on 10/20/17.

plea deal 2 — Jan 2018:
* Count 1 Burglary 1st is dismissed
* Count 2 receiving stolen property reinstated
* Count 3 Felony Murder amended to Involuntary Manslaughter, 7 years
Total time served: 7 years
** rejected as too lenient by Judge Hellmann on 1/8/18

plea (recommendation number 3) — Feb 2018:
* Count 1 Burglary 1st is dismissed
* Count 2 receiving stolen property is dismissed
* Count 3 Felony Murder amended to Involuntary Manslaughter, 7 years
Total time served: 7 years
** TBD

Jan 3rd 2018 hearing

At the hearing on Jan 3, the following happened:
 
Judge Hellmann asked the prosecutor and all 3 defense attorneys to “catch him up” on what’s been going on in this case. He got answers from them. Based on what they told him in open court, I know they didn’t tell him EVERYTHING that’s going on.
 
The prosecutor told the judge that he has prepared an updated plea deal for all 3 defendants, which all 3 are prepared to accept. This plea deal is EVEN MORE LENIENT than the deal offered in Aug 2017. Comparing the plea deals:
 
Aug 2017 plea deal:
* Count 1 Burglary 1st, 10 years
* Count 2 receiving stolen property dismissed
* Count 3 Felony Murder amended to Involuntary Manslaughter, 7 years
Counts 1 and 3 to run concurrently, hence 10 years
 
 
Judge Wood rejected the above plea deal as “too lenient”.
 
Parks’ new plea deal is even more lenient:
 
Jan 2018 plea deal:
* Burglary 1st is dismissed
* Count 2 receiving stolen property reinstated
* Count 3 Felony Murder amended to Involuntary Manslaughter, 7 years
Total time served: 7 years
 
Judge Hellmann asked the prosecutor more than once “how does the victim’s family feel about this.” Parks’ response was “they disagree”.
 
Blake Schindler, still out of jail on his own recognizance asked the judge for permission to visit his great grandparents while he is under house arrest. The judge asked him if his great grandparents could visit him instead. Blake said no because they are old. The judge agreed. I’m sad I can’t visit my dad, my grandma, and now my uncle. They’re all dead in the last year, one murdered, all thanks to these defendants.
 
This hearing appeared to be merely for Judge Hellmann to start getting caught up on what’s going on in this case. He made no decisions. I will be sending a letter with a lot of content to Judge Hellmann, to catch him up on the case. My understanding is that Hellmann would have Judge Wood’s file on this case, which should include all of my prior correspondence. But who knows.
 
A new hearing date was set: Feb 6th at 1:30pm. My understanding at this time is that I will be allowed to read my victim impact statement in open court again. You bet I’ll be there. I don’t know if this hearing will be one where Judge Hellmann will decide to reject or accept Parks’ plea deals.
 
If you want to write letters, please do. I don’t know if it will do any good. The main points, in my opinion, to address are:
 
* The defendants committed the felony of burglary of my dad’s home. This is felony murder, hence Murder 2.
* The cause of death is NOT positional asphyxia as the prosecutor thinks. The cause of death is asphyxiation from neck compression, which is stated on the death certificate (https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B-zWrp_PwRkyUFAzak5peHdESnM). Asphyxiation from neck compression is not an accident.
* The prosecutor revealed his prejudice calling my dad a pedophile during a temper tantrum he threw at my family in the court conference room on 9/19/2017. My dad was not a pedophile. He was gay.
* Bob Parks’ wife is DYING. She has early onset alzheimer’s, I have been told. He is struggling to take care of her. HE IS DISTRACTED, and he should remove himself from this case and request a special prosecutor.
 
 
 
The Honorable Judge Craig Hellmann
20th Judicial Circuit
401 East Main St
Room 100A
Union, MO 63084
 
State of Missouri v. Timothy Wonish 16AB-CR02348-01
State of Missouri v. Blake Schindler 16AB-CR02350-01
State of Missouri v. Whitney Robins 17AB-CR00659

Plea deal REJECTED

Judge Wood rejected the plea deals for Wonish and Robins today.

Here are all the relevant links of the last 3 days:

KSDK: Daughter furious over proposed plea deal

KSDK: Judge rejects plea deal in murder case

KMOV: Judge rejects plea deal for being too lenient in franklin county murder case

KTVI: Judge rejects plea deal for franklin county murder suspects

STL Post Dispatch: Judge rejects manslaughter plea deal in deadly franklin county burglary

The Missourian: Judge rejects plea deal in murder case

Victim impact statement

Victim impact statement as printed in the Missourian newspaper on October 6, 2017. And reproduced below:

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

In these next few minutes, I don’t know what will happen with my emotions. If I don’t seem emotional in this moment, it’s because over the months since Nov 3 2016 the emotions of pain and anger have been so overwhelming, in order to get through this thing that I have to do right now, I can’t let them well up or I might not get through this.

I have lived through four huge traumas since this all started. First, my dad is dead. I’m sure that is hard for all of us who have lost a parent. But the manner in which I lost him — murder — is the second trauma. My dad died alone, in terror, and by violence. The third trauma is the news Prosecuting Attorney, Robert Parks, delivered to me: that he was offering my dad’s killers an amazingly generous plea deal in which Second Degree Murder is reduced to Involuntary Manslaughter. With Mr. Parks’ soft deal in hand, the people who killed my dad could be out on parole in just two years.


The fourth trauma is that Mr. Parks has made a disgusting accusation against my dad. That the man who is responsible for representing the people of the community that includes my family, and is responsible for getting justice for victims of crime, should attack my family in such a shocking way, has hurt us all the more by blindsiding our trust in him.

One of the first nightmares I had after my dad was murdered, I remember screaming after dad as he was “leaving”, fading away: “Dad stay! Dad STAY!! DAD STAY!!!!”

The home I grew up in is now the HOUSE OF MURDER. Every family photo taken at our home is ruined. I see photos of us on the front porch, near the front door. That’s where we would have BBQs, sit by the firepit listening to cicadas, and make homemade ice cream. That’s the door where my dad’s bound and murdered body lay. I see photos of the living room and entryway. That’s where he struggled with his murderers. That’s where they knocked him to the ground and hogtied him and MURDERED HIM. I can never ever see family photos again without this being the first thing I think and feel.

The night before our house became the house of murder, my dad was going to sleep, to rise early to drive down to the Bootheel of Missouri, to the farm on which he grew up, to move his mother, my Grandma Malinda Allen, into our home to care for her. He never made it. She is another victim of this murder. At age 89, she died of a broken heart, a few months after he was murdered… Which is to say, she committed suicide. Malinda’s heart was crushed, and last March she decided she no longer wanted to live, she stopped eating. Eventually she did die, on March 19th, with her only remaining son Jeff, and her daughter-in-law Debbie sitting by her side.  I will never again be able to visit my grandma Malinda Allen on the family farm in the Missouri bootheel.

I will never again be able to visit my mom and dad in their home. I will never be able to visit my maternal grandma, Gaynelle, in her home near my parents’ house to help her in her garden, which was our favorite thing to do together. Both my grandma Gaynelle and my mother have had to abandon their homes out of fear and trauma.

I get to live with the awful images in my mind of how my dad’s body was found after he was murdered. Laying there RIGHT INSIDE the front door, my front door, dead, hogtied with phone and lamp cord. Were these cords from our phones and lamps? Did the murderers bring their own? According to dad’s friend who found his body that morning, he was facing the door, chin on the floor face upward, face blue and eyes open looking up, lying in a pool of his own blood, blood coming out of his nose and mouth. DEAD! Laying there only wearing his boxer shorts. DEAD!

The official cause of my dad’s death, as stated on the death certificate, is asphyxiation from neck compression.

On Monday September 18th, 2017 at 5pm, seventeen hours before the plea hearing, I spoke on the phone with the Forensic Pathologist who performed the autopsy on my dad and wrote the report. He said the following to me: “The reason the asphyxiation occurred is because someone applied pressure to your father’s neck. That’s what’s going on here. It’s not a positional thing. It’s an asphyxial thing due to pressure of another human being putting pressure to his neck, choking off and starving his body of oxygen going to his brain and to other vital structures.”

On February 27th, 2017, Prosecutor Parks told me something totally different about my dad’s death. And I believed him, Mr. Parks being a public official representing the State and the law, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Mr. Parks told me that when they hogtied my dad, one or more of the defendants were sitting on him, or maybe had a knee in his back, which caused my dad to suffocate while they were tying the cords around his hands and feet.

Mr. Parks description blatantly contradicts what the Forensic Pathologist, the doctor who examined my dad’s body, told me.

The doctor told me that Mr. Parks has never contacted him regarding my dad’s autopsy or the findings in the report. Mr. Parks’ did not ask for any kind of clarification of the cause of death: asphyxiation from neck compression.

Thirty minutes before the plea hearing for Wonish and Robins (September 19, 2017), friends and family gathered in a conference room with Mr. Parks. I raised the issue of this discrepancy of my dad’s cause of death with Mr. Parks. He became impatient and angry, interrupted me, and refused to “argue” with me, as he put it. I told him the Forensic Pathologist said no one from his office contacted him regarding interpretation of the autopsy. Mr. Parks denied it. My mother questioned Mr. Parks on his claim that the defendants were high at the time of my dad’s murder, and can’t remember anything they did. How could anyone know they were high at the time, especially when they were apprehended approximately 20 hours after the murder? Upon that questioning, Mr. Parks exploded at my family. He said to us, in front of my 93 year old grandmother, “Do you want the truth?! The truth was your husband was a pedophile!”

My dad was NOT a pedophile. My dad was NOT a child molestor. My dad was gay, though my parents chose to remain married. Being gay, and being a pedophile or a child molester, are NOT the same thing. Mr. Parks claims my dad was under investigation for this alleged pedophilia. He said that this investigation was never completed, and we have no right to see any documents or evidence of the investigation, which was run out of the Drug Task Force at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

Mr. Parks seems, in his own mind, to have already tried and convicted my dad of pedophilia, and found death to be an appropriate sentence. If someone wanted to “get” my dad, and destroy his reputation, all they would have to do was make these false accusations. My dad kept his private life private, but many people knew that he was gay. Anyone wanting to believe evil about him could listen to that slander, and make the illogical leap from being gay, to being a child molester. Those unproven accusations are now being used as an excuse for murder. The defendants are using the false accusations against my dad to leverage a plea bargain that makes a mockery of justice, and the Prosecuting Attorney seems bent on helping them do just that.  

On one hand, Mr. Parks says the defendants cannot remember what they did, and so he allows them an Alford plea as part of their very generous bargain. On the other hand, he says the defendants came to my dad’s house to confront my dad about their brother, Derrick Schindler. My dad had been trying to help Derrick get clean and get treatment. If they came to confront my dad at his house, was this murder premeditated?

So, I return to the defendants and their crimes against my dad. What is involuntary about any of the actions these defendants did to my dad? They hogtied him! How completely vulnerable, paralyzed and helpless. How demeaning. I have to bear this knowledge and these images in my being of my home and my dad, who I loved. His murderers ransacked his house, then robbed him of his dignity, even in death. I have to live with terrible questions. How much violence was there? Just how much pain did my dad endure?? My dad experienced ABJECT TERROR in his final moments before a death he knew was coming. Did he die slowly and fully aware of it, or did he die immediately from the choke hold one of you put on him? Did you choke him after you tied him up or right when you burst through our front door? From the moment you entered our front door my dad probably knew it was the end. How long did it take his life to drain away? How did his body feel struggling against yours in your embrace of death? How did it feel when he lost the battle, and his body went totally limp in your arms? Did you drop him to the floor? Did you lay him down gently? I have to carry those images in my heart for the rest of my life, knowing I may never have answers.

Felony murder is the normal charge when a death — even a purely accidental death — occurs during the commission of a felony. If they had not committed the felony of burglary against my dad, and if they had not unlawfully restrained my dad, or put a choke hold on his neck, he would be alive today and we wouldn’t be having this nightmare. When you put a choke hold on my dad, what is it you intended to do to him?  My grandma Malinda Allen would be living with my dad in that house today, and she too is dead as a result of this. Your acts are no accident. There is nothing “involuntary” about crushing an elderly man’s neck until he dies.

I have to live with the knowledge that my dad died alone, no loved ones with him to hold his hand or comfort him in his journey into death. Instead, the last people he saw were these vile sociopaths, career criminals bent on terrorizing and murdering him. My dad DID NOT DESERVE THAT.

He tried to help these people. He was a probation and parole office and a drug and alcohol abuse counselor. All my life, I remember him giving so much of his time and energy to helping people who were down and out and used substances to help them feel better. I watched him do this all of my life. A friend and colleague of dad’s recently said to me that some of the people my dad helped, none of the professional community thought these people could be helped or deserved help … and yet my dad selflessly stepped up to help. “Not on my watch!” he’d say. I hated watching my dad do that. My dad had a big, huge heart. And I watched his heart and his generosity so often get used and abused, time and time again. And yet he would go on and turn the other cheek. He has had more than a few success stories in helping people, not only in this county but surrounding counties as well. People who were suffering, whom he helped, who went on to pick themselves up and become successes and some of them became good friends of his and our family. He worked to heal the people around him, and protect those who could not protect themselves. He would not have wanted dangerous, remorseless killers back in the community he spent his life serving.

My dad knew the defendants. The defendants knew my dad, and they knew he would identify them as the perpetrators. Killing him was the only way they could hope not to be identified by my dad the very next day — unless killing my dad was really their main goal, and all along they knew that he would not be alive to hold them accountable.

I have to live with bearing the unbearable. The possibility my dad’s killers might be back on the streets in less than 10 years, and maybe as few as 2 years, despite their long string of offenses, despite their violence, despite their utter disregard for the suffering of another human being, is beyond belief. How do I bear the unbearable?? I ask the court to help me bear the unbearable, by giving my family what justice you can: reject the plea bargain and send these brutal murderers to judgement by a jury of their peers.

Kathy Allen, daughter of Ken Allen.