A Virginia Beach, Virginia, judge sentenced a man to four life sentences Monday, after he pleaded guilty to the 2004 murders of a 29-year-old mother, her 7-year-old son and their dog, according to reports.
NBC station WAVY in Portsmouth, Virginia, reported that Richard Stoner, 48, was sentence by Virginia Beach Circuit Court Judge Steven C. Frucci, who said Stoner’s confession “read like a horror story.” The judge added that the maximum sentence he could give Stoner felt insufficient.
Stoner was charged with aggravated murder and first-degree murder for shooting and killing Lois Schmidt, 29, and her son, Jonathan Vetrano.
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Prosecutors also said Stoner was charged with torturing and mutilating a dog after he killed the family pet, and aggravated malicious wounding after shooting Morgan Bloise, Schmidt’s brother, WAVY reported.
Prosecutors claim Christopher Schmidt, who was estranged and still married to Lois Schmidt, paid Stoner $10,000 to kill his wife with a set of instructions in 2004.
The case remained cold until 2018, when investigators said they obtained a confession from Stoner. The suspect testified in 2019 that Schmidt hired him to kill his ex-wife, but he ended up killing her son, too.
That same year, Stoner pleaded guilty to murder charges and agreed to testify against Schmidt after prosecutors promised not to seek the death penalty.
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In 2021, Virginia abolished capital punishment, and Stoner asked to withdraw his guilty pleas. The judge agreed with Stoner’s lawyer that the change in the law made the plea deal invalid.
Prosecutors said that without Stoner’s testimony, they did not believe they had enough evidence to win a conviction against Schmidt, who faced murder charges and was held in jail without bond for three years.
In September 2021, when Stoner was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea, Schmidt was released, and the charges were withdrawn.
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In February 2023, Stoner pleaded guilty for the second time to the double homicide.
Prosecutors said he waited outside of Louis Schmidt’s Virginia Beach house for nearly 45 minutes on June 28, 2004, after driving up from Florida with an instruction manual on how to kill Louis, allegedly provided by Chris Schmidt.
Stoner then allegedly knocked on the door and introduced himself to Louis as a friend from high school, before she shut the door. He then grabbed weapons, brake fluid and gas containers before cutting the phone line outside the home, WAVY reported.
The suspect then walked through the garage, tripped a breaker in the garage, and when Louis went to check the electricity panel, shot her and the dog.
Stoner then allegedly shot Blois, who called 911. Before leaving the scene, Stoner shot Vetrano and set the home on fire.
Source – https://www.foxnews.com/us/virginia-man-confesses-double-murder-sentenced-life-sentences-reports
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