Trial delayed in alleged torture death of daughter
By KATY SWEENY - Staff Writer
Posted: 10/22/2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
OROVILLE — A judge Thursday continued a trial against a Paradise couple for the alleged murder and torture of their adopted child, so attorneys can read the more than 6,000 pages of evidence, with more coming.
Butte County Superior Court Judge Kristen Lucena vacated the November trial date and set it for Feb. 28 in the case against Elizabeth Schatz, 43, and her husband, Kevin, 47.
The pair allegedly caused the death of their 7-year-old adopted daughter and serious injuries to her 11-year-old sister during separate "biblical chastisements" with a whip-like instrument in February at the family home.
Elizabeth Schatz's attorney, Dennis Latimer, asked Lucena to continue the trial so the lawyers can read through the large amount of evidence and obtain and review what is still expected.
The husband's attorney, Michael Harvey, joined in the motion to continue.
Deputy district attorney Kelly Maloy, sitting in for District Attorney Mike Ramsey, who is prosecuting the case, said they had no objection.
The Schatzes are charged with murder, torture involving great bodily injury and misdemeanor child abuse involving one of their six biological children.
The charges carry up to two life terms in prison. The couple pleaded not guilty in June.
Ramsey alleges the ridge couple were influenced by a book found in their home written by a fundamentalist Christian group based in Tennessee, supporting the use of a quarter-inch rubberized or plastic "plumber supply line" to "train" children to be more obedient to their parents and God.
Prosecution also alleges that Lydia Schatz, 7, one of three children the couple had adopted from an orphanage in Africa three years before, died from a breakdown of muscle tissue following a lengthy discipline session in the parents' bedroom after mispronouncing a word during a home school reading lesson.
After the child stopped breathing Feb. 5 and the mother dialed 9-1-1, Butte County Sheriff's deputies arrested the parents.
The girl's 11-year-old sister also allegedly sustained "whip-like" marks to her back, legs and buttocks during a similar parental chastisement the previous day. She was hospitalized with kidney failure but lived.
Elizabeth and Kevin Schatz will return to court Feb. 17 for a trial readiness conference. They remain in custody at the Butte County Jail with bail set at $2 million apiece.
Staff writer Katy Sweeny can be reached at 896-7760 or firstname.lastname@example.org.