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updated: 12/16/2016 6:58 PM

East Dundee murder defendant was $160,000 behind on mortgage

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  • Richard Schmelzer is accused of driving from Texas to East Dundee to kill his grandmother, Mildred "Dodie" Darrington, for a share of her inheritance.

      Richard Schmelzer is accused of driving from Texas to East Dundee to kill his grandmother, Mildred "Dodie" Darrington, for a share of her inheritance.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Kane County Assistant State's Attorney William Engerman, the lead prosecutor in the case, has argued that Richard Schmelzer was deep in debt, cheating on his wife with a $450-an-hour escort, when he bought a "go phone" and drove a rental car to East Dundee to kill.

      Kane County Assistant State's Attorney William Engerman, the lead prosecutor in the case, has argued that Richard Schmelzer was deep in debt, cheating on his wife with a $450-an-hour escort, when he bought a "go phone" and drove a rental car to East Dundee to kill.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Defense attorney Joshua Dieden says the state's case against Richard Schmelzer is circumstantial and authorities rushed to judgment.

      Defense attorney Joshua Dieden says the state's case against Richard Schmelzer is circumstantial and authorities rushed to judgment.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 

A Texas man accused of murdering his grandmother in her East Dundee home for a share of her inheritance was nearly $162,000 behind on his mortgage and had charged at least $27,100 on her credit card in cash advances in the six months before her death, witnesses testified Friday.

Richard Schmelzer, 44, of Frisco, a Dallas suburb, is charged with fatally stabbing Mildred "Dodie" Darrington in her bed in July 2014.

Kane County sheriff's office detective Brian McCarty, who was the assistant commander of the Kane County Major Crimes Task Force, testified Friday that Schmelzer was $161,715.92 behind on the mortgage when Darrington, 85, was killed. Schmelzer and his wife took out the loan in February 2007 and were in arrears within 18 months, McCarty testified.

Prosecutors have argued that Schmelzer, a high school athletic trainer and father of four daughters, kept the financial troubles hidden from his wife while he visited a $450-per-hour escort and showered her and her son with gifts.

During the two-week trial, prosecutors have presented evidence that Schmelzer bought a "go phone" and gift card and drove a rental car under another name to East Dundee and killed Darrington in her own bed with a single stab wound to her throat that severed her jugular and hit her spine.

Schmelzer had borrowed money from Darrington and other relatives, prosecutors said. He had a key to the house, inside of which were no signs of a struggle and no jewelry, valuables or cash taken despite being in plain view, prosecutors said.

Defense attorney Joshua Dieden contends that authorities rushed to judgment and have a circumstantial case lacking in direct evidence, such as DNA.

McCarty and an investigator for Square, a San Francisco-based company that makes credit card readers for mobile devices, testified that Schmelzer used a Square device to rack up at least $27,100 in cash advances on Darrington's credit card in the months before her death.

Closing arguments could begin Monday.

Schmelzer has been held at the Kane County jail on $5 million bail since fall 2014. He faces 20 to 60 years in prison if convicted.

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