Judge: Supermarket Murder “Heinous, Horrific and Reprehensible”
The preliminary hearing for a man accused of killing his estranged wife concluded in Wailuku District Court on Wednesday. Judge Adrianne N. Heely said that based on overwhelming evidence, the case involving Stephen Schmidt will proceed to Circuit Court. She called the crime especially “heinous, horrific and reprehensible.”
A total of seven people testified as witnesses in the preliminary hearing including: Ranae Balag, Lisa Aipa, David Ryan, Dr. Stacey Simons, Detective Gordon Sagun, Sergeant Alan Brown and Anthony Earls.
Judge Heely called their testimony “credible,” saying, “this court finds that there is overwhelming evidence that supports the five counts in the amended complaint filed on April 25, 2016,” and there is a belief “that said charges were committed by the defendant.”
She continued saying, “This court further finds that the act committed by the defendant was not only horrific in nature and heinous, but reprehensible. Finding probable cause, I will order that Mr. Schmidt’s case be committed to Circuit Court and that the defendant answer to the same.”
Schmidt, 45, is charged with the murder of his estranged wife, 24-year-old Kehau Farias Schmidt, and the attempted murder of two men who tried to intervene–James Reeves, 34, of Haʻikū and Scott Spencer “Kip” Stolsig, 53, of Wailuku. Both men were admitted to the hospital after sustaining stab wounds in the incident.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, Maui Detective Gordon Sagun testified that on the evening of April 19, 2016, Reeves was shopping at the Kehalani Foodland when he heard a woman screaming and people yelling, “He’s got a knife.” He said Reeves was unable to testify on his own behalf because he remains hospitalized and hooked up to a machine that is draining blood from his lungs.
According to Detective Sagun, Reeves tried to get between the suspect and the woman. With the belief that the incident was domestic in nature, Reeves followed the suspect who was observed running out of the store, with his intent to keep the suspect there until police arrived, according to testimony. While outside of the store, Detective Sagun recounted that the altercation turned physical with Reeves taking off his shirt and “throwing some punches.”
According to Detective Sagun, Reeves pursued the suspect who ran back into the store. That’s where Reeves was cut across the face and stabbed in the chest, according to testimony. During the incident, Detective Sagun said Reeves grabbed a bottle and hit the suspect on the head twice.
Feeling as though he was losing a lot of blood, Reeves made his way to the front of the store, but collapsed near the register, according to testimony. “He told me he thought he got stabbed in his heart and he was going to die,” said Detective Sagun who testified that Reeves then told a friend who went to assist him to “tell his kids he loves them.”
Detective Sagun also testified on behalf of Stolsig who was unable to attend the hearing because of a followup appointment with a surgeon scheduled on Wednesday afternoon.
According to Detective Sagun’s testimony, Stolsig was shopping at the Kehalani Foodland when he ran into David Ryan, who introduced him to a female friend. Stolsig then continued shopping, but “became alarmed when he heard people screaming in the store,” Detective Sagun testified.
Stolsig went to look and saw a woman with her neck sliced open, according to testimony. Stolsig responded by applying pressure to the woman’s wound, said Detective Sagun, who confirmed that it was the same woman who he was introduced to earlier.
The suspect then came back into the Foodland store and that’s when Stolsig was sliced across the face and stabbed in his torso with a wound extending from his upper chest to his lower abdomen, according to Detective Sagun’s testimony.
Both Stolsig and Reeves identified Schmidt as the person responsible for their injuries when they were presented with a photo line up of six individuals.
Also testifying on Wednesday was Sergeant Alan Brown who was involved in the police 2.8 mile pursuit of the suspect from the store in Wailuku to his home at an ʻohana unit located at 400 Molokaʻi Hema Street in Kahului.
Sergeant Brown testified that the suspect, who left the scene in a Suzuki Grand Vitara, jumped a curb to exit the Foodland parking lot and crossed into an oncoming lane of traffic to get past cars at the intersection of Maui Lani Parkway and South Kamehameha Avenue during the pursuit.
Sergeant Brown said he drew his firearm and ordered Schmidt to the ground four to five times, but he “took his time getting down,” and was “slow” to comply. “He was standing there. It looked like he was trying to decide what to do.”
Sergeant Brown said he put his firearm back in his holster when he observed that he had support from Captain Ricky Uedoi who had his taser drawn. During the response, a young girl, later identified as the suspect’s daughter opened the door and Schmidt said “Get my medication,” according to Sergeant Brown.
The sergeant instructed the girl to get the medication and leave it outside of the door.
The girl later asked what was happening, and Schmidt responded saying, “I couldn’t take it anymore and I stabbed (inaudible),” according to Sergeant Brown’s testimony.
In the car, Sergeant Brown said he observed blood on the key and steering wheel, as well as on the floor board where he said slippers were located, “covered in blood.”
The final person to testify was Anthony Earls, an evidence specialist with the Maui Police Department. He said police recovered several items from the vehicle that Schmidt was operating including: a key ring that was still in the ignition; slippers from under the steering column on the driver’s side floor; a pocket knife in the closed position that was on the front passenger seat; red blood-like stains on the steering wheel and driver’s side door; and three court documents all relating to the same court number, including a respondent’s copy of a Temporary Restraining Order filed by petitioner Kehau Farias Schmidt.
Earls described the knife that was recovered saying it was approximately eight inches long, with a 3.5 inch blade and a rough textured plastic handle that was approximately 4.5 inches long.
Earls also was called to the Foodland store where the stabbings occurred. There, he said police recovered several items including: a shirt; slippers; red stains near clothing; a purse on the floor near the express counter; two sets of keys near Aisle 9; earbuds; and a garment in the middle of the aisle.
Members of Schmidt’s family were among those in attendance at Wednesday’s hearing.
The judge in the case has maintained a no bail status for Schmidt that is subject to review by the Circuit Court. The next court date is on May 10, when Schmidt is scheduled to be arraigned.