The family of a Sanger woman missing and presumed dead since late 2004 says they are not pleased with an appeals court decision to release the man convicted of murdering her.
Late Thursday the Texas 2nd Court of Appeals overturned the 2011 conviction of Charles Stobaugh, of Sanger, for the murder of his estranged wife Kathy Stobaugh.
As of Monday, arrangements were being made to move Stobaugh from a Texas prison back to Denton County where the terms of his bond are to be worked out.
However Chris Munday, Kathy Stobaugh’s younger brother and the spokesman for her family, said the decision is not sitting well with them.
"My family and I fully believe Charles killed Kathy,” said Chris Munday. “There’s no question about it."
Munday said the trial that eventually lead to Stobaugh’s conviction was a long one that eventually lead up to hours of jury deliberations. He said the jury was very professional throughout the process and feels they came to the right decision.
"They heard every bit of it and they came to this decision among 12 people,” he said.
The prosecutor in the case also said he disagreed with the appeals court's decision.
"I don't think courts should take verdicts away from juries unless there's an error in the case and there was no error in this case," said Cary Piel, who now works in private practive. "The motive and opportunity and the timing were as powerful as any any case I've ever had."
Munday said the appeals court did not sit through the trial and hear the in-depth details of the case. He feels overturning the decision is not only the wrong move but that it sets a bad precedent.
"If this gets overturned completely then it's telling people that it's OK in the state of Texas to commit murder as long as you hide the body well enough for no one to find it," said Munday.
That was one of the biggest elements cited in the appeal as missing from this case: physical evidence.
In the 176 page opinion from the 2nd Court of Appeals they said the lack of evidence like an actual body in this case made it insufficient to establish the elements for a murder conviction.
Stobaugh’s attorney Derrell Comer said they are very pleased with the decision and praised the court for taking a thorough look at the case; as evident by the long and in-depth decision. In a statement late last week Comer said:
“Obviously we are very pleased that the 2nd Court of Appeals rendered a judgment of acquittal for Charles Stobaugh. From my first review of the one hundred seventy six page opinion it is apparent that the Court of Appeals did an extensive and methodical review of the evidence in this case. The Court of Appeals then wrote a very thorough opinion finding that the evidence was insufficient to convince any rational juror beyond a reasonable doubt that Charles Stobaugh committed the offense of murder as alleged in the indictment.”
A bond hearing for Stobaugh has been set for Feb. 13. An initial bond of $25,000 has already been set by the Court of Appeals, but attorneys for Stobaugh and the County will negotiate the specific terms for that at that hearing.
Spokeswoman for the Denton County District Attorney’s office Jamie Beck said no decisions have been made at this point as the office is still analyzing the court’s opinion. However she said there is, in her opinion, “a really, really, really good chance there will be an appeal.”
Munday said all the family and friends of Kathy Stobaugh can do for now is support the county in their further pursuit of the case and pray for a better outcome.
"It is helpless; very helpless,” Munday said. "It feels just like it was yesterday. And then when things like this happen ya know everything comes right back."
NBC 5's Scott Gordon contributed to this report.