Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother of five's killer husband sentenced to life with chance of parole in 40 years

An Grand Chute, Wisconsin man who shot his estranged wife to death and attempted to kill her mother has been sentenced to life with the earliest possible parole eligibility date at January 1, 2050. Scott Schmidt, now 39, was found guilty of killing 39 year old Kelly Wing-Schmidt in her driveway. Outgamie County Judge John Des Jardins presided over the trial and sentencing, which took place Friday, May 7.

Kelly Wing-Scmidt, mother of five, was gunned down over an affair she was having with a man. Three shots to the head killed her on April 17, 2009, in front of her kids. The kids also saw their maternal grandmother, Barbara Wing get injured by bullets. The last thing Kelly said before she was rushed to the hospital and died was take care of her kids.

The authors [of Schmidt's pre-sentence report] discuss Schmidt's problem with alcohol. They include the results of a court-ordered mental evaluation in which Dr. Ralph Baker concluded Schmidt was seriously depressed.

In interviews, Schmidt explained to the authors one of the most controversial aspects of his trial testimony. He said one of their best conversations he had with his wife came after he shot her. It was because they weren't fighting or yelling, but simply talking, he said. "I guess the best was I can explain it is like being in the eye of a hurricane," he said. "The fierce storm that went on between us — fighting, yelling and swearing before — now was over."

Pre-sentence investigations are just one tool used by judges in determining a sentence. Des Jardins also listened to testimony, statements on behalf of the prosecution and defense, and arguments from the attorneys. Schmidt also addressed the court.

The investigators said they found it "remarkable" that Schmidt was able to maintain employment with the Appleton Fire Department in recent years given his excessive drinking. Schmidt, they said, should have taken an extended leave, vacation or even a psychiatric commitment in the weeks or months leading up to the homicide.

He was a troubled man hanging on to whatever he could during troubled times.

Letters in support of the killer echoed that last sentence. Kristin Stille, Schmidt's ex-wife, said that "My son has a right to love his dad, to respect him and also to be proud of all the many accomplishments as well as to be proud of his dad as a human being.”

Brian Cook, a coworker of Schmidt's, said “I trusted Scott with my life every day as a firefighter, and nothing has changed. To this day, I would trust him with my life and the lives of anyone in my family.”

The victim's mother, Barbara Wing, who was also shot when her daughter was killed, said "She should be here for her children. She should be a paramedic. She should be saving lives instead of having hers taken. I would gladly in a heartbeat give my life this very second to have Kelly back for her children. I would also gladly give Scott Schmidt's. Sadly, neither of those are options for us today."

"I believe that Scott Schmidt should get out of prison at the same time my daughter gets out of Riverside Cemetary," the victim's father, Tom Wing said.

Letters written to the court illustrate the toll taken by the victim's kids. Kay Heimerl, the therapist for the victim's two youngest children, said that “The negative impact of Scott’s actions on his daughter are permanent and lifelong and will only change in presentation as she gets older and progresses through her various life stages.”

"It's obvious to me that the [kids] are different. Their lives have been affected forever. I can see it in their eyes. Something is gone," said James Baker, her 17 year old son's father.

"I don't know about your remorse - I don't know how sincere that is - the only person who knows that is God himself." Public protection and rehabilitation were minor factors in Judge Des Jardins' sentence. "Punishment is a huge factor. The damage you have done - the pain, the anguish, the torment caused to the Wing family and their friends is incredible. The court should not depreciate the seriousness of the damage that you did by the eligibility date."

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