Man gets 45 years for slaying of his East Dundee grandmother
A Texas man who was convicted of driving cross-country in July 2014 to murder his grandmother in her East Dundee home for a share of her inheritance was sentenced to 45 years in prison Thursday.
"Your family is now terrified of you," Kane County Judge Linda Abrahamson told Richard Schmelzer, 44, of Frisco, a Dallas suburb. "You took no responsibility for the death and murder of your grandmother."
After a lengthy trial in December 2016, a jury convicted Schmelzer of stabbing and killing Mildred "Dodie" Darrington, 85.
Prosecutors showed the Schmelzer, who was deep in debt and seeing high-end escorts that charged up to $450 an hour, sneaked into her home and stabbed the sleeping woman to death.
Schmelzer rented a car in his cousin's name, bought a burner phone, paid for gas via prepaid gift cards and lied about attending a work conference to cover his tracks, prosecutors said.
William Engerman, the lead prosecutor in the case, said Schmelzer had plenty of time to change his mind during the 14-hour drive to East Dundee.
"How many times could he have turned around?" said Engerman, who pushed for a 50-year sentence. "It was cold, calculated. It was evil. This was induced by no one other than his own greed."
Given an opportunity to talk, Schmelzer angrily professed his innocence. His voice rising at times, he launched into a 20-minute diatribe that the state's case was based on lies, conjecture, speculation, incompetent police work, jealously from his family and a rush to judgment.
"I'm innocent. I didn't do this. My grandmother was my best friend. I loved her with all my heart," Schmelzer said. "(Prosecutors) spent more time showing I cheated on my wife."
Schmelzer's mother, sister and oldest of his four daughters told a different story, though: He was arrogant, entitled and manipulative and how their lives were forever changed by his actions.
His mother, Angela Schmelzer, tearfully testified to the horror of learning that her mother didn't die a peaceful death.
"I have lost both my mom and my son and so much more," she said. "My mom loved my son so much she would have done anything for him. How could you do this? How could you just leave her there? There's no victory for me. There's just sadness and grief that I am not sure will ever end."
A letter from Schmelzer's oldest daughter was read in court, describing the impact of her father's absence in their lives and how fond memories have turned into sorrow and hatred toward him.
"We are being evicted from our house in June thanks to my dad spending all our money on his whores," she wrote. "I never thought the man who carried me on his shoulders would kill someone."
Under state law, Schmelzer must serve 100 percent of his prison term with no chance of early release.