- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2002

LEESBURG, Va. There will be no shortage of fantastic evidence in the trial of a 20-year-old college student accused of having her father killed by a sword-wielding friend with a history of mental illness.
Clara Jane Schwartz goes on trial today. She has been in jail since February, when she was arrested on the campus of James Madison University and charged with murder.
Prosecutors say she persuaded Kyle Hulbert, 19, of Millersville, Md., to kill her father, Robert Schwartz, 57, a biophysicist well-known in his field. Mr. Schwartz was found dead in December in his Loudoun County farmhouse. An autopsy report revealed 30 stab wounds, apparently from a 2-foot-long sword.
Police found a cache of online conversations between Miss Schwartz and Mr. Hulbert on her dorm-room computer, which they said she saved in a folder she labeled "UW people," with "UW" standing for underworld.
In the conversations, authorities believe, she urged Mr. Hulbert to commit the murder, using "tay" as a code word for murder. At one point, Miss Schwartz told Mr. Hulbert that if he were to kill her father, "all I ask is that it not trace back to me."
Mr. Hulbert has written a confession, in which he says Miss Schwartz told him about physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her father.
But the confession is replete with wild charges about poisoned pork chops, and Mr. Hulbert talks about the voices he hears from characters like Sabba and Ordog.
"I could no longer sleep without seeing him do something to Clara," Mr. Hulbert wrote. "I would close my eyes and see him poisoning a lemon or a pork chop as he did the last time I was at his house before I killed him."
Pretrial hearings have revealed that Miss Schwartz once told a friend she had been sexually abused by her father. Police testified that child pornography was found on Mr. Schwartz's home computer but that there was no proof that he was the one who downloaded it or even knew it was on the computer.
Mr. Hulbert's mental health will be a key issue in Miss Schwartz's trial. Her attorneys have argued in pretrial hearings that Mr. Hulbert, because of his mental illness, misinterpreted his conversations with Miss Schwartz. They have suggested that it is a legal impossibility to enter into a conspiracy with a person who may be legally insane.
Attorneys have battled for access to Mr. Hulbert's mental-health records. On Thursday, a judge granted Miss Schwartz's attorneys access to some records but denied access to others.
Defense attorney Corinne Magee declined to comment on whether the mental-health records available would provide enough information for them to make their case.
The trial is expected to take at least a week. Miss Schwartz faces four counts first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of solicitation to commit murder. She could receive up to life in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys differed on the difficulty of picking a jury in a case that received extensive pretrial publicity. The initial stories after Mr. Hulbert's arrest emphasized potential connections to witchcraft and the occult that generally proved to be unfounded. Much was made of an "X" that had apparently been carved into the back of Mr. Schwartz's neck, but police eventually concluded that it was merely a coincidental stab wound.
Jury selection is "definitely going to be an issue," Miss Magee said. "I'm hoping we can get a full jury panel that doesn't have preconceived notions based on pretrial publicity."
Prosecutor Owen Basham said he doesn't expect that would be a problem and that the more difficult issue would be finding jurors who will be required to serve for as long as two weeks.
Mr. Hulbert's case is scheduled to go to trial in March. Two other friends of Mr. Hulbert and Miss Schwartz Michael P. Pfohl and Katherine Inglis, who accompanied Mr. Hulbert on the night Mr. Schwartz was killed also face murder charges.
Miss Inglis has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, and on Thursday Mr. Bashum confirmed that Miss Inglis will testify against Miss Schwartz at the trial this week.


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