by Tom Nadeau
There is no word yet on whether an alleged child killer couple will try to move their scheduled November trial out of Butte to another California county – possibly Yuba, Sutter or Tehama – due to intense local publicity.
Kevin Paul Schatz and Elizabeth Hazel Schatz of Paradise were arraigned June 24 on a charge of murder in connection with the Feb. 6 death of a 7-year-old adopted daughter.
The girl died from injuries the Schatzes allegedly inflicted after she mispronounced a word. The pair also faces separate criminal allegations of torturing another adopted girl, aged 11, causing great bodily harm.
Both defendants have pleaded innocent to all charges. If convicted, they both face life terms in state prison. Their case file numbers are #CM032008 for Elizabeth and #CM032009 for Kevin.
Their case has drawn keen media interest, ranging from CBS television news and local newspapers to a slew of religion-related Internet blogs.
Grim details ...
The Schatzes, who are white, have six biological children. They adopted the dead girl, Lydia Schatz, the injured girl and a third child from a Liberian orphanage in Liberia about three years ago, various news sources reported.
The death and injuries allegedly resulted from a “biblical chastisement” – a disciplinarian regimen the Schatzes allegedly administered in accordance with teachings advocated by No Greater Ministries, a Tennessee fundamentalist group headed by Michael and Debi Pearl.
The Pearls and their adherents encourage parents to use a "rod," a quarter-inch plumbing supply line, as a "chastisement" tool to train their children to be more obedient, the Paradise Post reported.
An autopsy showed Lydia died from a rapid breakdown of skeletal muscle caused by blunt force trauma, Butte county District Attorney Mike Ramsey reported.
Her death came after hours of discipline for reportedly mispronouncing a word during a home school reading lesson. The 11-year-old sister suffered similar discipline the day before, news reports stated.
The Schatzes waived a preliminary hearing in June. They elected instead to go directly to trial. Their trial, which could run three weeks, is scheduled to start Nov. 1, with pre-trial proceedings set for Oct. 21 and Oct. 28. The couple meanwhile remains in custody in lieu of $2 million bail each.
Kevin Schatz is represented by Oroville attorney Michael O. Harvey. Harvey has yet to return telephone inquiries seeking comment.
Elizabeth Schatz is represented by Chico attorney Dennis Latimer. Latimer was unavailable for comment Friday.
Ramsey has said he plans to call the Schatz children as witnesses during the trial.
Judge Kirsten A. Lucena is currently assigned to preside