Man tes­ti­fies he was hired to kill Va. woman, son in 2004

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - LOCAL PERSPECTIVES -

VIR­GINIA BEACH — An In­di­ana Army vet­eran tes­ti­fied in court that he was hired by a Florida man to kill the man’s wife and her 7-year-old son in Vir­ginia.

The Vir­ginian-Pi­lot re­ported that 43-year-old Richard Stoner tes­ti­fied at a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing Thurs­day about how Christo­pher Sch­midt hired him and they planned and car­ried out the 2004 slay­ing of 29-year-old Lois Sch­midt and Jonathan Ve­trano, 7, her son from another mar­riage. Judge Deb­o­rah Bryan found pros­e­cu­tors es­tab­lished suf­fi­cient prob­a­ble cause, mov­ing Sch­midt’s case for­ward to a grand jury.

Stoner said the two men were shoot­ing guns in a Florida field when the 46-year-old Sch­midt men­tioned want­ing to shoot his wife. The Sch­midts were di­vorc­ing and fight­ing over cus­tody of their 1-year-old daugh­ter. Stoner said he felt Sch­midt took ad­van­tage of his emo­tional in­sta­bil­ity at the time.

“I felt ob­li­gated,” Stoner tes­ti­fied. “I pretty much gave him my word.”

Sch­midt gave Stoner a man­ual called “Diary of a Hit­man” and high­lighted ideas like wear­ing over­sized shoes to dis­guise foot­prints, which Stoner said he did, and they dis­cussed the gun that would be used.

The men com­mu­ni­cated by writ­ing to each other in the un­sent drafts folder of Stoner’s email ac­count, Stoner tes­ti­fied.

Sch­midt gave him a photo of Lois and her son, di­rec­tions to the house in Vir­ginia Beach and spe­cific in­struc­tions not to bring a GPS sys­tem and wrap his phone bat­tery in alu­minum foil to avoid be­ing tracked, he tes­ti­fied.

Sch­midt was to pay Stoner $11,000, he tes­ti­fied, but Stoner only got $1,000.

Stoner tes­ti­fied about watch­ing the home, then go­ing to the front door, where Lois an­swered. He claimed to be a friend from high school and she slammed the door.

“I al­most went home,” Stoner said.

He drove around the block and watched the house and “talked my­self up” be­fore ap­proach­ing again and cut­ting phone lines and cir­cuit breakers. He tes­ti­fied that he killed Lois Sch­midt, her son and a dog, wounded her brother and then set the home on fire. Stoner drove to Sch­midt’s Florida home, dis­card­ing ev­i­dence along the way, he said.

Po­lice ap­proached Stoner more than once, but he tes­ti­fied that it wasn’t un­til June that he ad­mit­ted in­volve­ment: “I was crack­ing up at this point. I was done.”

Stoner and Sch­midt were ar­rested in June on charges of first-de­gree mur­der and ex­tra­dited to Vir­ginia. Au­thor­i­ties said new in­for­ma­tion in the case led to the ar­rests.

Un­der ques­tion­ing from Sch­midt’s at­tor­ney, Stoner tes­ti­fied that he didn’t sign an agree­ment in which pros­e­cu­tors said they wouldn’t seek the death penalty if he co­op­er­ated, say­ing he didn’t feel he “de­served” it: “I don’t feel I de­serve to be given any­thing.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.