Suspect in Fatal Stabbing Appears for Preliminary Hearing
A preliminary hearing got underway on Monday in Second Circuit Court for Stephen Schmidt, a man accused of fatally stabbing his estranged wife at the Kehalani Foodland store in Wailuku during an incident reported last week Tuesday, on April 19, 2016.
During Monday’s proceedings before Judge Adrianne N. Heely, prosecutors presented four witnesses including: a counselor responsible for serving a Temporary Restraining Order; a woman who was shopping when the incident occurred; a forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy on the victim; and a man who was romantically involved with the victim.
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.
As witnesses recounted the events, sobbing could be heard from the gallery where a standing-room-only crowd was gathered.
Schmidt, meantime, entered the courtroom with an olive green padded overall and cuffs. His head was observed to be looking down the entire time except when he glanced upward toward the witness stand when a male witness was asked about his romantic relationship with the victim.
A woman who was shopping at the time of the incident, recounted that she witnessed the suspect “peeking around corners” and said she reported the strange behavior to a store cashier.
“I knew something wasn’t right and I felt strange,” said Lisa Aipa, who testified that she also saw the suspect walking fast and tippy-toe to look over counters in the store, actions that she found unsettling.
Prosecutors also called David Ryan to the stand, a 32-year-old man, originally from Houston, Texas, who has been living on Maui for two years. Ryan testified that he became romantically involved with Farias Schmidt soon after meeting her at a mutual friend’s house in Wailuku late last month.
On the night of the stabbings, Ryan said he had accompanied Farias Schmidt to the grocery store to pickup dinner. While shopping, he said the suspect approached him, pulled him close, and said he wanted to talk, “man to man,” and at one point asked if he loved her.
Ryan testified that the suspect dropped items that he was holding in one of his hands, and pulled out a knife. Ryan testified that he was able to break free from the suspect’s grasp.
When Ryan noticed he was not being followed anymore, Ryan returned to the isle where Farias Schmidt was and he testified that, “He (Schmidt) pulled her (Farias Schmidt’s) head to the right and upwards, put a knife to her throat and cut,” said Ryan. “He told me to help her,” but Ryan said he did not approach observing that the suspect was still holding a knife.
Ryan said he was then pursued by the suspect and chased out of the store where a confrontation ensued between one of the stabbing victims and the suspect in the parking lot. The suspect then went back into the store, according to Ryan.
Ryan was eventually able to get to his girlfriend and found a woman who was helping to apply pressure to Farias Schmidt’s wound. He took over care and said, “She (Farias Schmidt) was fading extremely fast. She had very short breaths.”
During testimony, Ryan described the suspect’s demeanor as “driven,” saying, “he looked like he knew what he was doing. That was his goal.”
Dr. Stacey Simons, a forensic pathologist who is acting as the coroner’s physician here on Maui conducted the autopsy on the victim. In her testimony, she said there were a total of seven wounds on Farias Schmidt’s head, neck and chest, and approximately eight on her hands.
She said the cause of death was exanguination or loss of blood due to an injury to her left carotid artery and left jugular vein, inflicted by sharp force injury to the neck. Dr. Simons said the neck injury was roughly three and a half inches in the deepest part, leaving a “gaping wound” that extended from behind the victim’s ear to the mid point of her neck.
The prosecution has two more witnesses scheduled to testify when the preliminary hearing resumes on Wednesday, April 27, 2016.