Michael Schumacher and Anthony Waiters appeared in the Stockton courthouse this morning, along with Kelly Lau and Carén Ramirez, for a hearing where their attorneys pleaded with San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Terrence Van Oss to remove or reduce some of the counts against them.
All four are in custody at San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp on multiple charges including torture, aggravated mayhem and child abuse after they allegedly caused great bodily harm to “Kyle,” a runaway teenage boy at Schumacher and Lau’s home on Tennis Lane. If convicted, they could face life in prison.
John Casanave, representing Schumacher, said that based on the grand jury transcript his client did not torture Kyle out of the traditional motives such as extortion or revenge, so that charge should be reduced.
“You have to have cruel, extensive pain and you have to show purpose,” Casanave said.
Prosecutor Angela Hayes said her side looked at the big picture, studying the severity of Kyle’s injuries and determined that the intent was to cause extreme pain.
Casanave also tried to dispute the charge of aggravated mayhem, saying that the evidence of Kyle initially saying that Schumacher “never” beat him with a heated aluminum bat and then later saying that he “might have” isn’t stable enough.
In response to the felony charge of assault with a caustic chemical, where one or more of the defendants allegedly poured lighter fluid on Kyle, Casanave said Schumacher was just in the house for dinner at the time and did not take part in the assault.
Van Oss denied all three of Casanave’s motions, saying that Kyle’s abuse was “extraordinary.”
“We have Schumacher sitting here watching this take place and allegedly it’s his gasoline,” Van Oss said of Schumacher’s involvement. “He’s at least encouraging this activity and apparently condoning it under his roof.”
Waiters’ attorney, Allen Jose, said that the validity of the evidence against his client was his biggest problem. Jose said that statements Kyle provided were elicited improperly and were laced with hearsay and speculation regarding what Waiters allegedly did to him.
When Jose said that there were too many “speculative facts” that came out of the grand jury transcripts to secure a motive, Van Oss interjected and asked what reason Waiters would have for abusing the boy.
Jose said that no motive exists and it’s Hayes’ job to prove Waiters actively tortured Kyle.
Hayes said the evidence against Waiters and the other defendants is extensive, noting that Lau’s 5-year-old daughter even told the grand jury that Waiters repeatedly hit Kyle with a heated aluminum bat. Van Oss denied Jose’s motion to remove or reduce Waiters’ felony torture charge.
“He could’ve left at any time,” Hayes said of Waiters, noting that he had a job and other activities to do, but he kept going back to the Schumacher home.
Jose also told Van Oss that there is inadmissible evidence of death threats Waiters allegedly made to Kyle. He said there’s no concrete evidence in the grand jury transcripts that while Kyle was in captivity, he feared for his safety. Hayes countered, saying there was no question he was terrified.
Van Oss denied Jose’s motion to clear the charge of the threats after he read aloud statements from Kyle in the grand jury transcript.
“They always had these plans to basically kill me,” Van Oss read. “They would say it in front of me.”
The statement Van Oss read said that the defendants planned to cut Kyle up and throw him into the Delta, among other things, because he “didn’t deserve to live.”
Prior to the speeches of the attorneys, Van Oss said the enhancement charges of inflicting great bodily injury were dismissed for both Schumacher and Waiters. Van Oss also dropped a charge of personal use of a non-firearm weapon for Waiters.
Van Oss told the attorneys that there’s probably no way for the trial to begin in February, as previously planned. There will be another hearing at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 17 to reconsider scheduling, he said.
The hearing lasted about 45 minutes. Schumacher was the first to come into the courtroom, at about 9:15 a.m. today. He talked with Casanave, laughing occasionally and making a suggestive gesture.
The other three defendants were led in a few minutes later. Waiters read over court papers as he waited for the hearing to begin.
• Contact Tracy Press reporter Justin Lafferty at 830-4269 or firstname.lastname@example.org.