Pretrial hearing date set in beating death
By TERRY VAU DELL
OROVILLE — A preliminary hearing has been set for May 25 to determine if there is enough evidence to try a Paradise couple for the alleged murder and torture of two adopted children.
On Thursday, prosecutors said they intend to call one or more Paradise police officers but no family members to testify during the estimated two-hour pretrial hearing for Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz.
Authorities allege the ridge couple used a quarter-inch plumber's supply line during a "biblical chastisement" that went too far, resulting in medical complications that caused the death Feb. 5 of 7-year-old Lydia Schatz and left her sister, Zariah, 11, hospitalized with serious injuries.
District Attorney Mike Ramsey said earlier police found a book in the Schatz home written by a fundamentalist Christian couple in Tennessee which espouses using the whip-like plastic line to "train" children to be more obedient to God and their parents.
One or more of the Schatz's six biological children reportedly told police their parents had used the same implement to chastise them in the home.
Attorneys for the ridge couple said outside of court Thursday they are continuing their own investigation into the young girl's death.
Kevin Schatz, 46, and his 42-year-old wife, Elizabeth, remained silent during a brief appearance in Butte County Superior Court Thursday morning.
Judge Kristen Lucena ordered the pair to remain held on $2 million bail pending next month's pretrial hearing.
According to Ramsey, an autopsy determined the younger girl died from "blunt force trauma" over a period of hours, which caused a breakdown of muscle tissue that fatally damaged her kidneys and other vital organs.
He said the pathologist observed bruises and "multiple whip-like striations between the child's lower back and knees."
Her sister was hospitalized several days with similar injuries, which authorities allege occurred during a separate discipline session at the family home the previous day. She has since survived and has been placed in foster care with the couple's other children.
The two victims had reportedly been adopted by the Schatzes along with an infant girl, now 3, from an African orphanage about three years ago.
The ridge parents have previously pleaded not guilty pleas to an open count of murder and torture causing great bodily injury, which could carry two life terms in prison upon conviction.
The couple are also charged with a misdemeanor count of child abuse, relating to less serious injuries to a 10-year-old son.