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Sanger man to return to area

Profile image for By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer

Stobaugh expected to transfer from prison unit to Denton County

Just days after his murder conviction was overturned by an appeals court, Charles Stobaugh is expected to be moved back to Denton County so he can be released on bond.

A bench warrant issued by 362nd District Court Judge Bruce McFarling puts the wheels in motion to transfer Stobaugh from the Wallace Pack Unit near Navasota in Grimes County to Denton County for his release, according to Stobaugh’s attorney, Wm. Reagan Wynn.

The hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 13, but Wynn said he expects it to come sooner than that.

A jury convicted Stobaugh, 58, of murder in the death of his wife, Kathy, who disappeared in December 2004. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Last week, the Second District Court of Appeals overturned the conviction, saying there was not enough evidence to convict the Sanger farmer.

The court agreed that he could post a $25,000 bond, with conditions set by the court that presided over the trial, as the district attorney’s office considers a possible appeal of that ruling.

Wynn said that he and his client were very happy with the outcome, calling the court’s 176-page opinion meticulously researched and well thought out.

“He is happy to be coming home,” Wynn said.

The court noted that Kathy Stobaugh’s body has not been found, and that there was no evidence at the trial that she was murdered or that connected Charles Stobaugh to her death or disappearance.

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. Her car was in the driveway the next morning.

First Assistant District Attorney Jamie Beck said last week she expects the office to file an appeal. The only way to reverse the appeals court’s acquittal is for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, to overturn the findings. But if the higher court refuses to hear the district attorney’s appeal, Stobaugh’s acquittal would be final.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.