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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: August 12, 2000
Date of birth: October 27, 1981
Victims profile: Ronald Friskey, 53, and his daughter Virginia, 10
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Brevard County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on December 5, 2003

Supreme Court of Florida


opinion SC04-53


DC# E20773
DOB: 10/27/81

Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, Brevard County, Case # 00-41829
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Jack Griesbaum
Attorney, Trial: George McCarthy – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Christopher S. Quarles – Assistant Public Defender

Date of Offense: 08/12/00

Date of Sentence: 12/05/03

Circumstances of Offense:

On 08/12/00, Randy Schoenwetter broke into the Friskey’s residence with the admitted intentions of forcing one or both of their daughters to have sex with him. 

Schoenwetter was friends with the Friskey’s oldest son and had spent the night at the residence several times. Schoenwetter had spent the previous year riding his bike around town peeping into windows and fantasizing.  He also broke into homes for excitement.

Schoenwetter entered the Friskey residence through a sliding glass door.  He took a foot-long kitchen knife and wandered around the house.  Schoenwetter went to Theresa’s bedroom which was locked, so he continued into the bedroom of the youngest daughter, 10-year-old Virginia. 

Virginia woke up when Schoenwetter entered her room and shrieked. The noises woke up her mother, Haesun, who then got up to check on Virginia.  From the hallway, Haesun saw Schoenwetter standing by her daughter’s bed touching her. 

Haesun yelled at Schoenwetter and cannot remember much of what happened next, except that she and Ronald Friskey attacked Schoenwetter, and he fought back with the knife. 

After the fight, Schoenwetter went back into Virginia’s room and killed her since she had recognized him and called him by his first name. Schoenwetter then left the house the same way he entered and rode his bicycle back to his apartment. 

At his apartment, he took a shower and put the knife, his bloody clothes, and shoes in a bag, which he then threw in a dumpster. The articles were later retrieved by detectives. 

The Friskey’s 16-year-old daughter, Theresa, was in the house during the attack, but was not harmed.  She had peaked outside her bedroom when she heard the commotion, then locked her door, called 911, and hide in a closet.  She reported to 911 that she did not know what was happening but to send help. 

After the attack, Robert stumbled to the neighbor’s house in his underwear and had his neighbor call 911. Robert died at his neighbor’s house before paramedics arrived. Virginia also died that night from stab wounds. 

Haesun Friskey, however, miraculously survived the attack.  Haesun had stab wounds to her abdomen, liver, chest, arms, back, face, and neck.  Schoenwetter says the fight is a blur, and he can just remember that when Ronald and Haesun attacked him, he flailed wildly with the knife.   

Detectives followed a blood trail from the Friskey residence to the apartment complex that Schoenwetter lived at with his mother.  Schoenwetter was interviewed and brought down to the police station. 

At the station, in a video taped interview, Schoenwetter admitted to committing the crimes. Schoenwetter accepted complete responsibility for his actions and pled guilty to all the charges of his indictment.   

Additional Information:

Three mental health experts provided testimony that Schoenwetter suffers from significant mental problems: Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Schoenwetter’s PET scan confirmed the Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis by revealing an abnormal frontal lobe. 

Schoenwetter’s type of neurological disorder prevented him from reaching emotional maturity. He has an emotional maturity level equivalent to an 11- or 12-year-old.  The prosecutors, however, contended that Schoenwetter is smart, cold and calculating, with an I.Q. of around 130.

While Schoenwetter’s mother was pregnant with him, she had inadequate nutrition, was ill, lived without electricity, and suffered extreme physical abuse from Schoenwetter’s father.

As a child, Schoenwetter suffered great ridicule and abuse from peers at school.  He never developed social skills and never had friends. A doctor estimated that Schoenwetter had a social comprehension level of an 8- to 10-year-old child at the time of the offense. 

Schoenwetter did poorly academically as a child and teenager.  While growing up, Schoenwetter had a sexual preoccupation (calling adult hotlines, viewing pornographic material, etc.) and was into the gothic subculture.  A major characteristic of Asperger’s Syndrome is a life encompassing extreme preoccupation with a subject or topic, which for Schoenwetter was satanic and sexual matters.

At one point, Schoenwetter tried to sign up for the Marines with his best friend and other schoolmates.  His friends joined; he, however, was rejected due to poor eye sight.  This rejection had a devastating effect on him.  While he was a teenager, Schoenwetter also suffered physical abuse from his mother’s boyfriend.

Schoenwetter was 18 years old at the time of the offense and had no previous history of violence towards others or prior criminal history other than a retail theft.

A prison pastor claims to have converted Schoenwetter to Christianity and describes him as the most serious Bible scholar he has ever seen.

Trial Summary:

08/29/00          Indicted as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder (Virginia Friskey)

Count II:          First-Degree Murder (Ronald Friskey)

Count III:         Attempted First-Degree Murder (Haesun Friskey)

Count IV:          Armed Burglary

03/05/03          Schoenwetter pled guilty to all charges of the indictment.

09/25/03          Jury recommended death by a vote of 10 to 2 for the murder of Virginia Friskey and 9 to 3 for the murder of Ronald Friskey.

12/05/03          Sentenced as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

Count II:          First-Degree Murder – Death

Count III:         Attempted First-Degree Murder – Life

Count IV:          Armed Burglary – Life

Case Information:

On 01/14/04, Schoenwetter filed a direct appeal with the Florida Supreme Court.  In his appeal, Schoenwetter argued that error occurred when the trial court denied his motion to suppress his confession.  

Schoenwetter claimed that his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel was violated by denying his counsel’s motion to withdraw.  He also contended that error occurred in allowing a medical examiner who did not perform the autopsies to testify.  He also argued that denying his motion for mistrial when the prosecutor deliberately misled the jury about Schoenwetter’s lack of significant criminal history and denying his motion to disqualify the judge were erroneous. 

An argument was made that admitting inflammatory photographs that were not relevant should have not taken place.  Schoenwetter contended that his death sentences were impermissibly imposed since the court included improper aggravating circumstances, excluded existing circumstances, and failed to properly find that the mitigating circumstances outweighed the aggravating circumstances, rendering the death sentences unconstitutional.  

Schoenwetter’s final arguments were that the court placed a higher burden of persuasion on the defense to prove life imprisonment as an appropriate sentence than the state to prove death and that the death sentences were unconstitutional since the jury did not give a unanimous death recommendation. 

On 04/27/06, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed Schoenwetter’s convictions and sentence.

On 09/06/06, Schoenwetter filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.  The petition is currently pending.


Jury Votes 'Death' For Titusville Killer

September 26, 2003

A jury is recommended the death penalty for Randy Schoenwetter for the stabbing deaths in 2000 of a 10-year-old Titusville girl and her father, according to Local 6 News.

Actual sentencing will take place at a later hearing but if Circuit Judge John "Jack" Griesbaum proceeds with the jury's recommendation Schoenwetter, 21, would be the youngest inmate on Florida's death row.

"We take no pleasure in recommending the death penalty, but the facts are horrible, and this young man deserves the death recommendation," Assistant State Attorney William Respess told Local 6 News partner Florida Today.

The jury, which could have recommended a life sentence without parole, voted 10-2 in favor of imposing the death sentence for the murder of Virginia Friskey, and 9-3 in favor of death for the murder of Ronald Friskey.

Schoenwetter showed little emotion as the recommendation was read.

Beginning at 1:15 p.m., jurors began nearly seven hours of deliberations, interrupting only for meal breaks and to ask for a transcript of Schoenwetter's videotaped statement to police on Aug. 12, 2000, Florida Today reported.

"He wasn't just some nasty kid who decided to go out and kill someone," defense attorney George McCarthy told jurors.

Despite Schoenwetter's youth, his admission of guilt and decisions defense attorneys argued were influenced by psychiatric disorders, the jury of six men and six women gave greater weight to aggravators in the crimes.

Those included the young age of Virginia Friskey, the "heinous" nature of the subsequent attack that killed her 53-year-old father Ronald and left her mother Haesun close to death, and thefact that the crimes were committed after Schoenwetter broke into their home with a box cutter while they slept.

Schoenwetter pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and said he went to the home with the intention of raping Virginia or her sister Teresa, then 16.

In the nine days since jury selection began, defense attorneys described Schoenwetter as a social outcast who suffered from brain disorders including Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism that leads to impulsive behavior and social deficiencies.


Randy Schoenwetter at trial



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