Friday, April 1, 2011

Schatz hearing: cameras banned;
jury pick, trial start set for April 11

by Tom Nadeau

OROVILLE -- Husband and wife Kevin P. and Elizabeth H. Schatz were in Butte County Superior Court this week to finish tidying up a few legal issues remaining before their joint murder trial starts April 11.

The Paradise couple are accused of killing one girl foster child they were caring for and seriously injuring a second girl last year.

Butte County sheriff’s deputies arrested the pair early last year. They were arrested Feb. 5, 2010 on charges of murder, torture and cruelty to a child. Both later pleaded innocent to all charges.

Kevin Schatz, 46, is represented in People v. K. Schatz, (CM#032009), by attorney Michael O. Harvey. Elizabeth Schatz, 42, is represented in People v. E. Schatz, (CM#032008) by attorney Kevin A. Sears.

Judge Kristen A. Lucena granted a joint defense motion Wednesday to deny a television media request to record that day’s hearing.

Sears had argued the couple’s appearance in orange jailhouse garb might prejudice potential jurors yet to be selected.

The defendants customarily wear street clothes when they appear before jurors.

According to testimony in earlier hearings, Lydia, 7, died and Zariah, 11, was seriously injured from beatings allegedly administered by the couple using by a quarter-inch plumbing line.

The prosecution, led by Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey, also alleges that the girls were beaten in “Biblical chastisements” in accordance with stern religious beliefs the accused couple allegedly hold.

Lucena Wednesday ordered the couple to return to courthouse Department 6 3:30 p.m. April 7 and 8:30 a.m. April 8 for further pre-trial hearings.

Jury selection is expected to start April 11 and the trial to last about three weeks, Ramsey said.

Various religious groups and their websites have taken considerable interest in this case. More than a half-dozen spectators who appeared to be present strictly for the Schatz hearing were observed in the courtroom.

All were quiet. One declined to comment on the day’s events.

with Sam Pierce