Walking free

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David Minton/DRC
Charles Stobaugh is released from the Denton County Jail surrounded by his son and daughter, Thursday.
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Stobaugh released after three years in prison

Locked arm-in-arm with his son and daughter, Charles Stobaugh walked out of Denton County Jail a free man Thursday afternoon.

Stobaugh, 58, was convicted of murder in 2011 by a Denton County jury in the disappearance and presumed death of his wife, Kathy, in 2004, but his conviction was overturned last week by a state appeals court that cited a lack of evidence in the case.

During a bond hearing at the Denton County Courts Building on Thursday before 362nd District Court Judge Bruce McFarling, Stobaugh was ordered to be released on $25,000 bond but must wear a GPS tracking device and not leave Denton, Tarrant or Cooke counties pending an appeal of the decision.

The courtroom was filled with friends and family, including Kathy Stobaugh’s brother and Charles Stobaugh’s two children, along with others awaiting their turn to be called before McFarling.

Stobaugh’s murder conviction was overturned by a three-judge panel from the Second District Court of Appeals in a written opinion that noted that Kathy Stobaugh’s body was never found and that no evidence linked Stobaugh to her disappearance or apparent death.

After posting bail, Stobaugh emerged from the Denton County Jail and Law Enforcement Center with his daughter, Charee, and son, Tom. Stobaugh is happy to return home after spending three years in jail, his attorney, Wm. Reagan Wynn, said.

Earlier, outside the courtroom, Wynn said he is pleased with the appeals court decision and believes the 176-page opinion was meticulously researched.

The Denton County District Attorney’s Office has 30 days to file an appeal from last week’s Court of Appeals ruling with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest court for criminal cases. Officials said they will make a final decision by then whether to formally appeal but expect to do so.

Prosecutor Rick Daniel and Charley Orbison, chief of the district attorney’s appellate division, were at the bond hearing Thursday.

“Our intent today is to file the appeal,” said Jamie Beck, first assistant district attorney. “However, we need to take our time and do a proper analysis of the opinion before making the final decision. The terms were exactly what we asked the court for, and we felt they were necessary given the circumstances of this case.”

In the hallway of the courthouse after the hearing, Stobaugh’s children said they are glad their father can finally come home.

Not everyone was happy about the decision, though.

Chris Munday, Kathy Stobaugh’s brother, told journalists waiting outside the courtroom that Charles Stobaugh is “not the good ol’ farmboy” he wants people to believe.

“Those that don’t know him, be careful. Those that do, you know what I am talking about,” he said.

Munday told the Denton Record-Chronicle that he has been following the appeal process and has hopes that Stobaugh will go back where he believes he belongs — in jail.

The Stobaughs had been embroiled in a divorce that was set to become final the day after Kathy Stobaugh disappeared. She went to Charles Stobaugh’s home to discuss the divorce and was not reported to have been seen after that.

He said she left, but that when he woke up the next morning, her car was in the driveway, according to court records.

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.


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