Man gets 20 years for killing wife
The judge notes that the Ewa Beach man shows no remorse for suffocating her
A circuit judge sentenced a 45-year-old Ewa Beach man to 20 years in prison yesterday for suffocating his wife by lying on top of her with her face in mud.
Circuit Judge Richard Pollack told Michael Leo Schuette yesterday that he did not see "any sign of remorse whatsoever" about the death of Schuette's wife, Victoria Morata Schuette, who had been seeking a divorce.
Under a plea agreement, Schuette pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Dec. 7, a lesser offense than second-degree murder. Under the plea, however, Schuette was required to admit that he "knowingly or intentionally" caused his wife's death and agree to serve a maximum prison term of 20 years, said Deputy Prosecutor Rom Trader.
During sentencing, Victoria Schuette's two sisters cried as they read personal statements to Pollack. "He should be locked up for life," cried her younger sister, Josie Calubaquib.
Comforted by Calubaquib, Victoria Schuette's older sister, Dora Pio Roda, wailed as she said, "I wonder what my sister, what she had gone through during the last minute of her life." Pio Roda recalled the moment her niece called her to inform her that her sister had died.
"Now my sister is gone, and I'm never going to see her again," she said.
Victoria Schuette's daughter, Mahala Morata, cried in the courtroom gallery as her aunts read statements.
Victoria Schuette, 49, was an accountant at Wheeler Army Airfield. She also has a son, Zuriel Morata, from a previous marriage.
Victoria Schuette filed for divorce against Schuette on April 19. There was a history of abuse in the relationship, Trader said. "She was looking to leave her broken relationship with this man, but he was not willing to accept that."
On Sept. 10, Schuette and his wife had an argument over potted plants that he had arranged at their Hoomahana Street home in Ewa Beach. Both fell to the ground when he tried to stop her from removing the plants.
Schuette, who weighed about 260 pounds at the time, positioned his body on top of his wife, who weighed about 130 pounds, so she could not move and would listen to what he had to say.
While she was lying face down in the muddy grass, Schuette told police, his chest was directly over his wife's shoulder, neck and head and that he stayed on top of her for five to 10 minutes. The Department of the Medical Examiner determined the cause of death as "mechanical asphyxia/overlay."
With his ankles shackled, Schuette said, "I think of Victoria each and every day. I truly miss her. She was a very wonderful person who I loved very much. If I could change what happened that night, that tragic night, I would do so."
During sentencing, attorney Alexandra Kaan, who represented Schuette, said a psychologist who examined him determined that his wife's death was an accident. Pollack described Kaan's accident assertion as "preposterous."
"I will let you know that the court completely rejects that. Absolutely. Completely," he said.
After sentencing, Kaan said Schuette accepts full responsibility for his wife's death and that he is remorseful.
Victoria Schuette's family members declined to comment and asked for privacy, Trader said.
"This is still a huge gaping hole in their lives, and they're still struggling," he added.
"They're appreciative of the fact that this matter is one step closer to being resolved," he said. "Still, no matter what we do, that does not bring Victoria Schuette back to all of them. They will always be struggling with that loss."