LEESBURG, Va. A former James Madison University student who enlisted a friend to kill her scientist father with a 2-foot sword was sentenced yesterday to 48 years in prison.
Clara Schwartz, 20, showed no emotion and left the courtroom in ankle chains without looking at her relatives, many of whom testified against her.
Michele Schwartz, the defendant’s sister, said she still has nightmares about the gruesome December 2001 murder in which her father, Robert Schwartz, was stabbed about 30 times with a sword in the Loudoun County farmhouse where he lived alone.
“I don’t think any punishment is great enough to make things right,” she told the judge.
“It’s hard enough to lose a father, but to have a sister commit such a horrible crime, it’s something I struggle with.”
Attorneys for Clara Schwartz asked that the judge uphold the jury’s recommendation for a 30-year sentence for murder, but drop the extra years the jury suggested for conspiracy and solicitation convictions.
They also argued that her behavior was the result of undiagnosed hyperthyroidism.
Loudoun County Circuit Judge Thomas D. Horne said the more lengthy sentence was justified.
“We are responsible for our actions. We don’t try to shift blame to others,” Judge Horne said, telling Schwartz she was the one who “set in motion a series of events that led to the terrible death” of her father.
Prosecutor Owen Basham called the sentence fair and appropriate. Schwartz could get a 15 percent reduction in her term for good behavior while in prison, meaning she could be released when she is 61, rather than 68.
Kyle Hulbert, 22, of Millersville, Md., has told police that he killed Mr. Schwartz, 57, a noted biophysicist, to protect Clara from verbal abuse. Michele Schwartz and other relatives have called the abuse charges ridiculous. Mr. Hulbert is scheduled for trial in April.
Michael Paul Pfohl pleaded guilty in December to second-degree murder for driving Mr. Hulbert to the farmhouse. He will be sentenced in April.
Clara Schwartz was at JMU in Harrisonburg when her father was killed. She was arrested two months later after investigators tied her to the slaying through records on her computer.
Schwartz was supposed to be sentenced Jan. 21, but Judge Horne gave the defense time to offer a written motion questioning whether prosecutors had evidence that her father abused her, and failed to turn it over.
The judge denied the motion yesterday, saying the testimony involved would not have affected the verdict.