Stacey Schoeck, accused of hiring a hit man to
kill her husband on Valentine’s Day 2010, pleaded guilty this
morning to murder malice with forethought and was sentenced to
life without parole.
"Judge (Jason) Deal appropriately recognized
that Stacey Schoeck was the engine that put this train in motion,
until the death of her husband," District Attorney Lee Darragh
said. "Without her involvement, this would not have occurred."
Schoeck said through her attorney Max Hirsh
that "she is relieved that justice has been done for Richard."
Richard Schoeck of Snellville was shot to death
the night of Feb. 14, 2010, at Belton Bridge Park in North Hall.
Triggerman Reginald Coleman pleaded guilty last
month to malice murder and was sentenced to life without parole
for his role in the case. Lynitra Ross was sentenced to life
without parole in August for acting as the "go-between" for
Schoeck and Coleman.
It was an emotional sentencing, with both
written and in-person testimony from co-workers, friends and
family of Richard Schoeck.
Victim impact statements painted a portrait of
a man who avidly flew hot-air balloons and was a beloved friend,
uncle and stepfather.
"We have all felt emptiness in our lives not
having Richard around," one of his former co-workers said.
Many people who testified choked back tears as
they spoke of his good nature and of crushing bitterness for the
woman who orchestrated his demise.
But the emotions of friends and family of
Richard Schoeck were hardly perceptible when Stacey Schoeck took
the stand and accepted total responsibility for her crimes.
"I said, ‘I’m going to be the judge, the jury
and the executioner.’ And that’s what I did. And that’s
disgustingly awful," Schoeck said.
She pleaded for mercy in her sentencing.
"Someone told me the definition of mercy is
getting what you don’t deserve," Schoeck said.
Her mother, Rena Morgan, read testimony from
Schoeck’s two younger sons, who Richard Schoeck had adopted.
"I miss her every hour of every day, just like
Daddy Richard," her 10-year-old son Kevin wrote.
Schoeck testified that it was the belief that
her husband had molested her 14-year-old son Keith that led her to
conspire to murder him, an allegation that was never proven.
The defense had the task of convincing Judge
Deal that a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 30
years would be the more appropriate, merciful punishment.
They asked Deal to consider mitigating factors,
namely Schoeck’s alleged past childhood sexual abuse, which she
disclosed to a forensic therapist during imprisonment.
The defense also asked Deal to consider
Schoeck’s positive interaction with other female inmates, and her
cooperation with the district attorney.
Prosecutors agreed to not pursue the death
penalty for Schoeck’s cooperation and testimony in the Ross trial.
In the end, Schoeck’s sentence matched that of
While Deal said he "had no doubt" that Schoeck
was molested as a child, he emphasized the sordidly premeditated
nature of the crime when handing down his sentence.
"This wasn’t a spur of moment, heat of the
moment crime. It was very, very premeditated," he said.
Her attorney asked that Deal note in the
sentence that Schoeck not be in the same prison as Ross, who
Schoeck testified against in May.
Making such an accommodation could be tricky
with limited resources to hold female prisoners, Deal noted, and
suggested that both attorneys and himself sign a letter making the
Accused hitman pleads guilty in Schoeck
Coleman sentenced to life without parole in ’10
November 12, 2012
Accused hitman Reginald Coleman pleaded guilty
to malice murder Monday and was sentenced to life without parole
in the Feb. 14, 2010, murder of Snellville man Richard Schoeck.
Schoeck was shot to death at Belton Bridge Park
in North Hall. Prosecutors have said his wife, Stacey Schoeck,
hired Coleman to do the job for $10,000. Schoeck is charged in the
murder as well but has not yet gone to trial.
According to Hall County District Attorney Lee
Darragh, Coleman entered the plea Monday afternoon before Superior
Court Judge Jason J. Deal.
Darragh said he could not comment on the plea
because Stacey Schoeck has not yet appeared in court. She is
expected to do so before the end of the year, but no date has been
Coleman’s attorney, Christian Lamar with the
Georgia Capital Defender’s Office, could not be reached Monday for
Coleman also pleaded guilty to possession of a
firearm during the commission of crime and possession of a firearm
by a convicted felon. He was sentenced to five years on the first
count and five concurrent years on the second.
Coleman is not the first to be found guilty in
connection with the slaying.
In August, Lynitra Ross was sentenced to life
without parole for acting as the “go-between” in the 2010 plot to
kill Richard Schoeck.
Ross, who was supervised by Stacey Schoeck at a
DeKalb County spinal clinic, introduced Stacey Schoeck to Coleman.
She, according to prosecutors, even tagged along during a “dry
run” at the park to scout out the location of Richard Schoeck’s
Richard Schoeck, 45, was shot to death on
Valentine’s Day as he waited for his wife at the park in Lula well
after dark to exchange gifts.
According to previous reports, the motive may
have been financial; investigators wrote search warrant requests,
since Stacey Schoeck had pending life insurance claims totaling
$560,000. One of the policies activated that Feb. 1, deputies
stated. Stacey Schoeck later testified that she had thought her
husband was abusing her children.
The state was earlier seeking the death penalty
Schoeck: Ross knew of plans to kill my
Ross accused of helping in Valentine's Day 2010
By Ashley Fielding - GainesvilleTimes.com
May 17, 2012
Lynitra Ross knew that she was helping to plan
Richard Schoeck’s murder, Stacey Schoeck told a courtroom
Stacey Schoeck spent some seven hours on the
stand in Hall County Superior Court on Thursday as the state’s key
witness in Ross’ trial.
Ross is charged with malice murder, accused of
helping Stacey Schoeck hire a hit man — alleged to be Ross’
on-again-off-again boyfriend Reginald Coleman — to kill Richard
Schoeck in 2010.
Stacey Schoeck said Thursday she will plead
guilty to the charges against her. The case against Coleman is a
capital one, and is still tied up in a number of pretrial motions
associated with death penalty cases.
Schoeck, too, would have faced the death
penalty were it not for her testimony that Ross knew of the murder
Wearing a Hall County jail jumpsuit and
shackles on her hands and ankles, Stacey Schoeck said she had
another motive to take the stand.
“I’m going to testify truthfully for Richard,”
she told chief assistant district attorney Lindsay Burton. “It’s
all I can give his mom and his family and the children — all I can
give them is the truth.”
When she decided to kill him in December 2009,
Stacey Schoeck said she believed Richard Schoeck was molesting her
Saying that she was molested as a child,
Schoeck said she drew the conclusion because her children were
acting out — one had shoplifted — like she said she had as a
“I was just so fixated in my mind that Richard
was doing something wrong that I said, ‘I don’t want the cops, I
don’t want a divorce, I want him dead,’” Schoeck said.
She later learned her husband had done no such
thing. But Richard Schoeck was already dead.
Richard Schoeck was shot to death at Belton
Bridge Park near Lula on Valentine’s Day in 2010. Members of his
family came to the Hall County courtroom to watch Stacey Schoeck’s
testimony Thursday, one of them wearing a jacket printed with
images of hot air balloons, one of the late Richard Schoeck’s
Stacey Schoeck told the court Thursday that she
hired Coleman to kill her husband through Ross, and that she and
Coleman planned the murder in Ross’ presence.
Schoeck testified that, before she involved
Ross, she originally tried to get another man who she knew did
“illegal things” to help her with the crime.
But when the man never called her back, Schoeck
confided in Ross at a Newnan Mexican restaurant in January 2010
that she wanted to kill her husband, she told the courtroom.
“Her response was ‘well, I know somebody who
could do that for you,’” Schoeck said.
As Schoeck made the statement in court
Thursday, Ross shook her head “no.” But Schoeck testified further
of Ross’ telling her that Coleman “had a lot of experience” as a
“I didn’t know evil could come so easy. I was
just like ‘really?’” Schoeck told the court.
According to Schoeck’s testimony, Ross then got
in touch with Coleman, who asked to meet.
She then followed Ross to Coleman’s Austell
home, and when they arrived Coleman dispatched Ross to a nearby
Zaxby’s for food.
Schoeck testified that she and Coleman did not
discuss the murder plot until Ross returned and that Ross was
present as Coleman and Schoeck discussed a venue for the murder
and his payment.
That weekend, Schoeck said she met Ross and
Coleman at a Buford Walmart where the three rode together in
Coleman’s car to scout out Belton Bridge Park.
After that, Schoeck said she gave Coleman a
2009 Chevrolet Impala she had been trying to sell for her
grandparents and she never saw him again.
Coleman, a personal trainer who ran his
business under the name “Mr. Results,” was listed as a contact in
Stacey Schoeck’s phone when Hall County investigators took it in
February 2010. He also had previously come to the DeKalb County
spine clinic where Schoeck and Ross worked to offer lunchtime
“The only times I ever saw or spoke to Reginald
Coleman was the day we had Zaxby’s that afternoon and the
following Saturday (when) we went up to Belton Bridge,” Schoeck
testified. “Everything else was done through Lynitra.”
In exchange for what Schoeck said was Ross’
role, Schoeck gave Ross a house she owned on Devon Mill Road.
Already, Ross had been living in the house for
months paying for needed repairs instead of rent, according to
When it was his turn to question Schoeck, Ross’
attorney Rodney Williams called into question her credibility as
an honest witness, showing nearly an hour of a video of Hall
County investigator Dan Franklin questioning Schoeck on the night
of Richard Schoeck’s murder.
Schoeck repeatedly claimed ignorance of what
might have led to her husband’s death.
“I don’t know anything,” Schoeck said. “I’m
trying to think of it. I don’t know,” she says before grabbing her
Again, when investigators asked her if she knew someone was going
to hurt Richard Schoeck, Stacey Schoeck first said “you mean,
Then she quickly adds “No. I never, ever, ever
dreamed of anything happening to him — ever.”
Williams also questioned how, if Stacey Schoeck
suspected her husband was molesting her children, she never
inquired about it and continued to leave her children at home
alone with Richard Schoeck.
“You think your children are being abused and
you leave them with their abuser — is that what you’re telling
this jury?” he asked.
Then he questioned how Stacey Schoeck could lie
in bed with Richard Schoeck for a month, knowing she had already
hired someone to kill him, and how she could tell him she loved
him and let him cook dinner for her and her grandparents on
Valentine’s Day 2010 as she did hours before Richard Schoeck’s
“I said whatever I had to say to accomplish my
goal of killing Richard that night,” Schoeck said.
And Williams questioned whether Schoeck was
doing the same in court Thursday: saying what she had to say to
get a promise from prosecutors that they wouldn’t seek the death
penalty against her.
“I don’t consider life in prison a deal — a
bargain,” Schoeck answered.
Prosecution in Valentine's Day slaying trial
focuses on records
Bank, phone documents connect Ross to slaying,
By Ashley Fielding - GainesvilleTimes.com
May 17, 2012
When Hall County investigators were looking
into Richard Schoeck’s death, they subpoenaed records from all
calls placed in the vicinity of a cellphone tower near Ga. 365 on
the night of his murder.
In those records, investigators found a number
that was also a contact in the phone of Richard Schoeck’s wife,
Stacey, according to testimony in the trial of Lynitra Ross of
Austell who faces charges of malice murder.
The number belonged to Reginald Coleman, who
was listed in Stacey Schoeck’s phone as “Reggie.”
Of the thousands of calls Coleman had made
since the beginning of January 2010, the only call he made using
that tower near Lula was to Ross, according to testimonies from
records professionals for Sprint and Verizon and Hall County Lt.
Ross, too, was also a contact in Stacey
For the last two days, prosecutors have been
presenting evidence they say demonstrates that Ross served as the
“middle man” in the hired hit of Richard Schoeck, connecting
Stacey Schoeck with Coleman when she expressed interest in having
her husband killed, according to statements made in court this
Attorneys for Ross, who worked with Stacey
Schoeck at a DeKalb County spine clinic, argue that the state
doesn’t have enough evidence to charge their client with murder.
Today, Stacey Schoeck will appear as a witness
for the state. Also charged with murder, Stacey Schoeck is
expected to enter a guilty plea after her testimony.
Prosecutors for the Hall County district
attorney’s office have said that they will not seek the death
penalty against Stacey Schoeck if she testifies truthfully today.
It appears Richard Schoeck was shot five times
on Valentine’s Day in 2010, with one of the bullets likely passing
through his right hand before passing through his torso, Geoffrey
Smith, a forensic pathologist who performed an autopsy on
Schoeck’s body, told the court Wednesday.
The two shots to his face likely came from
close range and penetrated his brain and spinal cord. Richard
Schoeck, active in the Boy Scouts and an avid hot-air balloonist,
had planned to meet his wife at Belton Bridge Park in Lula to
exchange valentines. He was killed before she arrived.
In court Wednesday, prosecutors called witness
after witness to detail bank and phone records that show Stacey
Schoeck gave Lynitra Ross thousands of dollars around the time of
Richard Schoeck’s slaying.
Chris Vreeland, a fraud investigator for
Suntrust bank where Stacey Schoeck held numerous accounts, said
that on Jan. 21, 2010, $8,000 was transferred from an account
owned by Stacey Schoeck and her grandmother to another account
Schoeck and Kaveh Khajavi, a doctor at Georgia Spine and
Neurosurgery, had together.
Statements for the second account later showed
two “miscellaneous debits” of $8,902 and $1,100, on Jan. 26 and
Feb. 12, 2010, respectively.
Statements from Ross’ Suntrust account showed
credits in the same amount on those same days, Vreeland testified.
Ross then wrote three checks — in the amounts
of $4,900, $2,500 and $3,632.50 — out to cash between Feb. 3 and
Feb. 12, 2010.
She also wrote a $700 check to Coleman on Feb.
5, according to Vreeland’s testimony.
Prosecutors showed still shots of videos in the
bank that captured both Ross and Coleman cashing the checks.
The defense, in its cross-examination, pointed
out the amount of money that moved in and out of Stacey Schoeck’s
bank account during the same time periods.
Some $104,000 moved through the account held by
Stacey Schoeck and her grandmother in January 2010.
“Mrs. Schoeck could have accessed $100,000?”
defense attorney Rodney Williams asked.
“She could have, yes,” Vreeland answered.
Earlier testimony centered on tire tracks at
the scene of the slaying.
On Tuesday, Investigator Cameron Durham
testified that tire treads at Belton Bridge Park showed that a
vehicle that wasn’t Stacey Schoeck’s came to the park before
Richard Schoeck arrived to meet his wife.
Those same tire treads, which are alleged to
have belonged to a 2009 Impala that Stacey Schoeck gave to Ross
and later sold to Alicia Flores, passed over the treads of Richard
Schoeck’s Ford truck, according to testimony.
Investigators believe Coleman was driving the
vehicle on Feb. 14, 2010.
Stacey Schoeck has admitted to having an affair
with co-worker Juan Reyes at the time of her husband’s death.
Both Reyes’ mother and sister-in-law testified
Wednesday about Stacey Schoeck’s desire to quickly sell the 2009
Impala after her husband’s death.
Jennifer Reyes, sister-in-law of Juan Reyes,
said Stacey Schoeck called her on Feb. 17, 2010, and asked if she
could pick up the Impala from Ross’ house, which was near Jennifer
Reyes’ tattoo shop in Austell.
Schoeck told Jennifer Reyes that Ross had
initially intended to buy the car but wasn’t able to get
financing, according to Reyes’ testimony.
Schoeck wanted the car picked up from Ross’
home the next day.
“Being a good friend, I said ‘of course, not a
problem,’” Jennifer Reyes testified.
Jennifer Reyes never picked up the car. Ross,
in the only phone conversation the two women had, wanted the car
to be picked up after 9 p.m.; Jennifer Reyes could only pick up
the car earlier in the evening, according to her testimony.
“She got an attitude with me, because I
wouldn’t pick up the car when she wanted me to,” Jennifer Reyes
said, describing her conversation with Ross.
Jennifer Reyes said Stacey Schoeck, too, “got
huffy and puffy” when she told her that Ross had been difficult to
deal with. Stacey Schoeck told Jennifer Reyes that she “would deal
That night, someone dropped the car off at
Reyes’ tattoo shop when she wasn’t there, leaving the keys on a
case in front of an employee, according to her testimony.
The following month, Stacey Schoeck contacted
Alicia Flores, Juan Reyes’ mother, about buying the vehicle.
According to Flores’ testimony Wednesday,
Schoeck told her that there were “too many vehicles in her
driveway” and she wanted to sell the car to help pay for hospice
for one of her grandparents.
“She knew I had a ’95 (Toyota) Camry that was
giving me a lot of trouble,” Flores told the court.
The Impala that Stacey Schoeck wanted to sell,
according to a warrant prepared for Schoeck’s arrest, had belonged
to her grandparents.
And Schoeck seemed to be in a hurry to get rid
of it in March 2010, Flores testified Wednesday.
According to the deal Flores said the two made,
Schoeck would give Flores $3,000 for the Camry and sell the Impala
When Flores said she wasn’t sure she could
qualify for a loan, Schoeck said she’d give her the Impala anyway.
Schoeck took the Camry and told Flores she
could pay $100 to $200 a month until she paid the car off in full.
On March 16, Schoeck picked Flores up and
signed the Impala over to her name.
“I could see that she was in a hurry to get rid
of it,” Flores testified. “She even mentioned to me that if I
couldn’t pay for the car, she would be OK with it.”
Flores made two payments — $100 in both April
and May 2010 — before the Hall County Sheriff’s Office seized the
vehicle, according to documents submitted in court Wednesday.
Flores hasn’t possessed the vehicle since.
Defense attorneys, in their cross-examination,
questioned Flores’ approval of her son dating a married woman and
how Flores was able to get the title after putting no money — only
her 1995 Camry — down on the car.
“My son is a grown man, and he’s a divorced
person,” Flores said. “I can’t make choices as to who he picks to
date ... it was his choice to see her, not mine.”
Prosecutors will continue to present their case
against Ross today at 9 a.m. in Hall County Superior Court.
Schoeck is expected to be their first witness of the day.
Valentine's murder suspects indicted
By Ken Stanford - Accessnorthga.com
June 11, 2010
GAINESVILLE - Three people - including the
victim's wife - have been indicted in the Valentine's Day murder
of a Snellville man at a Hall County Park.
District Attorney Lee Darragh confirmed the
indictments Friday but would not comment on whether he has decided
to seek the death penalty.
Stacey Schoeck and Reginald Coleman and Lynitra
Ross, both of Acworth, were arrested May 25.
The trio is accused of killing Schoeck, who was
found Valentine's night, shot several times at Belton Bridge Park
in East Hall County.
All three are scheduled for a preliminary
hearing next Friday.
Arrest warrants say Coleman shot the
45-year-old Schoeck repeatedly.
Stacey Schoeck reported, at the time, that she
found her husband's body at the park when she arrived for a
pre-arranged meeting. Col. Jeff Strickland of the Hall County
Sheriff's Office said she had been a "person of interest" in the
case since the beginning of the investigation.