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Daughter Guilty in Dad's Sword Killing

October 16, 2002|From Associated Press

LEESBURG, Va. — A former college student was found guilty Tuesday of first-degree murder for enlisting a friend to kill her scientist father with a sword.

A Loudoun County Circuit Court jury deliberated four hours before returning its verdict against Clara Jane Schwartz, 20. Jurors recommended she spend 48 years in prison. She will be formally sentenced Jan. 21.

Defense attorneys said they would appeal, arguing that the jury did not spend enough time going through the evidence.

Robert Schwartz, 57, was found dead in his home Dec. 12. A prominent biophysicist, he had been stabbed multiple times with a 2-foot-long sword. Police arrested two of Clara Schwartz's friends and found the murder weapon in one of their homes.

Schwartz has been in jail since her arrest in February on the campus of James Madison University, where she was a student.

Prosecutor Owen Basham urged the jury Tuesday to recommend a stiff sentence. "You've been asked to look at the photographs and look at the ugly, savage way Dr. Schwartz was killed in his own home," Basham said.

The jury could have recommended a life sentence for the convictions, which also included conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of soliciting a crime.

The defense argued that the man prosecutors say she asked to commit the crime, Kyle Hulbert, is not mentally stable. They also argued that Robert Schwartz abused his daughter.

Hulbert, 19, of Millersville, Md., wrote in a confession that he killed Schwartz to protect Clara Schwartz from abuse.

He refused to testify last week against his friend, citing his right to avoid self-incrimination.

Prosecutors allege that Hulbert wasn't the only person Schwartz asked to kill her father.

Patrick House, a former boyfriend, testified Oct. 8 that he and Schwartz were the primary characters in an elaborate role-playing game she invented called Underworld. Clara played the overlord, Lord Chaos, and House acted as an assassin assigned to kill "Old Guy" -- Clara Schwartz's father.

At one point, Schwartz asked House when he really would kill her father, but he never followed through, he testified.

Defense attorneys said the game was only an escape for a girl with a sad social life.

Hulbert and Michael P. Pfohl, who is accused of driving Hulbert to the Schwartz house, each is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy. Their trials are set for early next year.

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