DENTON COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – A man found guilty of murdering his wife could be out of prison in a couple of weeks.
A panel of judges has overturned Charles Stobaugh’s 2011 conviction because his wife’s body has never been found. The judges also ruled not enough evidence was presented at his trial.
The decision means Stobaugh’s 25 year prison sentence could be thrown out, just three years after a jury convicted him.
In 2004, Kathy Stobaugh disappeared the day before her divorce from Charles was to be finalized. She was last seen going to visit his Sanger home to discuss the divorce.
“The number one thing was his motive and opportunity. The timing of her death was critical,” said former Denton County prosecutor Cary Piel, who tried the case.
“Juries don’t get it wrong. They just don’t,” he said. “I don’t think a jury verdict should be taken away by the court unless there was an error made.”
Piel said in this case the judges did not point to an error. Instead they ruled more evidence, specifically a body was needed. Without a body, the judges said no rational jury could determine Charles Stobaugh’s mental state. They also ruled there wasn’t enough physical evidence to link him to the murder.
Chris Munday, Kathy’s brother, says he always expected an appeal, but never thought it would work.
“Its not just a slap on my face, it’s a slap on the jury’s face,” said Munday.
“My question is the state over turning this says ‘It’s ok to kill someone as along as you can hide the body well enough.’”
CBS 11’s calls to Charles Stobaugh’s attorney have not been returned.
Stobaugh is scheduled to go before a judge February 13 for a bond hearing, at which time he will likely be released.
Denton’s district attorney has the option of appealing this latest ruling to try to keep Stobaugh locked up.
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