Escort: East Dundee murder suspect paid her $450 an hour
Richard Schmelzer first met Carmen Ward-Hagains in November 2013 at a Texas apartment when he paid for sex with her and another escort who considered him to be a trusted "established client."
Schmelzer, 44 and a married father of four girls, soon began paying $450 an hour to Ward-Hagains, quickly becoming an established client, and showering her with gifts.
Ward-Hagains testified Schmelzer eventually wanted her to have sex with him exclusively, and he volunteered to put her on his payroll to prove legitimate income in her child custody dispute. He even mentioned a long-term relationship, but she viewed their association as more of an agreement.
"I told him that I did not think meeting the right person would change my mind and I did not see a reason to get remarried," Ward-Hagains testified.
Schmelzer, of Frisco, Texas, is on trial in Kane County for the first-degree murder of his grandmother, Mildred "Dodie" Darrington, 85.
Prosecutors argue Schmelzer was deep in debt, and his options for borrowing money from family had dried up. So he drove from suburban Dallas in July 2014 to the suburbs and stabbed Darrington to death in her own bed at her East Dundee home -- for which he had a key -- to collect his share of her inheritance.
Defense attorney Joshua Dieden argues the state's case is circumstantial and a rush to judgment, noting his client made some poor lifestyle choices but direct evidence such as DNA was missing from Darrington's home.
In her testimony Tuesday, Ward-Hagains said Schmelzer offered to help pay her legal bills in her child custody case and told her she could come to him if she needed money or other help.
Schmelzer also told her he had to "collect a debt" so he could pay off his house and be a "free man."
Their relationship soured, however, after Schmelzer went to meet her son, who had been staying with another escort that Schmelzer visited.
Under cross-examination, Dieden was quick to note Ward-Hagains was committing two crimes: prostitution and fraud in a ghost payroll scheme in her custody case. Dieden also noted Ward-Hagains had other men paying for her legal bills.
Schmelzer's trial is expected to run through this week. If convicted he faces 20 to 60 years in prison with no chance of early release.