Updated Thu, Jan 9, 2014 4:36 pm
A Hillsboro man received a life sentence for the murder of a Laurelville man, resolving a case that has gone through three trials.
Robert Schall, 49, was sentenced Thursday in Vinton County Common Pleas Court for shooting and killing Michael Hunt, stealing money and drugs from the man and burning down the mobile home while Hunt’s body was still inside. Schall was charged with four counts of aggravated murder, one count of aggravated arson, one count of aggravated burglary and one count of tampering with evidence.
Schall was found guilty on Dec. 12 of all charges by a jury who took four hours to decide the verdict. The trial was the third attempt after two prior tries resulted in mistrials. The first trial, in April of last year, ended in a hung trial and the second the following October ended when a sheriff's deputy gave a juror a ride home, causing the judge to end the trial.
“Obviously it was a long journey to get the case to its conclusion, hopefully this is closure for the family,” said Vinton County Prosecuting Attorney Trecia Kimes-Brown.
Kimes-Brown said she found the sentence to be fair, just and appropriate for the crime, but “would expect” an appeal to be on the horizon.
Defense attorney Chuck Knight said after the conviction that he also expected Schall to appeal the conviction. He made a motion during sentencing for Schall to apply for indigency so that he can gain eligibility for public defender representation.
Schall did not make a statement during his sentencing hearing, but defense attorneys maintained his innocence.
Special prosecutor Paul Scarsella read a statement from the victim’s niece, who said Hunt was a big part of her mother’s life.
“I hope that he never gets the chance to see a life outside prison again,” Scarsella read from the statement.
A pre-sentence investigation completed after Schall’s conviction showed that Schall did have a likelihood of reoffending, according to Simmons.
The prosecution recommended a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 30 years for the six of the seven charges. For the charge of aggravated murder, the prosecution cited law which requires a three-year mandatory sentence for a charge with a firearm specification.
Simmons agreed to the recommendation, with the sentences running concurrent for a total sentence of 33 years to life in prison for Schall.