Cazares plea deal denied

---Updated 5p.m., Tuesday, April 6, 2010----

The illegal immigrant charged with stabbing his former girlfriend and a Monroe City man will not avoid a murder trial.

Tuesday morning a St. Charles County judge dismissed a plea bargain between Marion County Prosecuting Attorney Tom Redington and Manuel Cazares' defense attorney.

That deal called for the 33 year-old illegal immigrant to accept a 30-year sentence in return for pleading guilty.

He would be deported back to Mexico after his sentence was served.

Cazares faces second-degree murder charges for killing 27-year-old Amanda Thomas and her high school friend 25-year-old Carl Patrick Epley at her apartment in February of last year.

Thomas was Cazares' former girlfriend and had a young son with him, which kept them connected, even though she had three orders of protection against him.

There was applause from family members and friends of Amanda Thomas and Patrick Epley after a judge denied the plea deal that would have let Manuel Cazares go free after 30 years in prison for the violent deaths of their beloved family members.

Patrick's Older brother Corey Epley said, "This was the most good news we've had in a year and a half. Everyone was clapping and it was very exciting."

Amanda Thomas' Mother Jody Schaubroeck said, "I was elated, because the sentence of 30 years sounds okay until you do the math. You just think, he could be out in 25 years, so that's 12.5 for Patrick and 12. 5 for Amanda. That's appalling and that's insulting. He would have a lot of life left {when he gets out} and he doesn't deserve that."

The judge told the courtroom that he could not in good conscience grant the request. That came as a breath of fresh air to family members, who had learned of the plea deal from a recent letter from the Marion County Prosecuting attorney. That prompted them to deliver victim impact statements Monday, in hopes of swaying the judge towards going ahead with the trial as planned.

But although the ruling was what they wanted to hear, Amanda's mother Jody Schaubroeck says she knows both families have a long road ahead.

Schaubroeck said, "We know we are gambling with the system once again. We know a jury may come back, however I tend to have more faith in our average citizen that they will not view the victims in having any copability on their own demise. If that is that is the way is supposed to be so be it. But no one can say we didn't fight for her. No one can say we did not fight for Patrick."

Family members say seeing Cazares walk into the courtroom was yet another reminder of the lives *they* say he took away more than a year ago.

Jody said, "My heart started to pound and tears filled my eyes and my hands shook but I wasn't willing to give him any more power than what he has taken from my family. //There's not a moment that goes by that we do not feel her presence with us."

Judy Mann, the 'Mother' that took care of Amanda since she was a baby said, "It's unbearable at times and it's broken my heart to pieces."

Epley said, "It's hard, it is. He was my best friend and it's hard."

Both victims leave behind children who are forced to live without their parents. Patrick's four-year old son and Amanda's two children still ask where their parents are.

Judy Mann said, "It's awful to live without her and that her children have to live without her."

The case has been continued until a new trial date is set. Cazares has had several other run-ins with the law before this, but always provided what appeared to be legal identification about his immigration status. Those documents were found to be false after his arrest.

---Original Story----

A judge in St. Charles, Missouri denied a plea agreement for 33 year old Manuel Cazares this morning.

The judge stated that he could not, in good conscience, grant the motion of a 30 year sentence, saying it was too lenient.

Once the decision was announced from the bench, cheers from the families of both victims erupted in the courtroom.

The families also expressed their relief that Cazares will answer for his crime instead of accepting a plea deal.

The mother of Amanda Thomas said 30 years in prison under the proposed plea deal would have been an insult to her daughter and to the family of Carl Patrick Epley.

Cazares is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the February 2009 deaths of his former girlfriend, Amanda Thomas, and Carl Patrick Epley. Both were stabbed to death at Thomas' home.

Police say Cazares, who is from Mexico, turned himself in and admitted committing the crimes out of jealousy.

The case has been continued.