The man accused of almost killing a couple during a violent home invasion in Virginia in November 2014 was found guilty of all seven charges Tuesday for the hours-long attack in which he stabbed, shot and tased the couple.
A jury found Andrew Schmuhl, a former military lawyer, responsible for breaking into the McLean home of lawyer Leo Fisher and his wife, Sue Duncan, and then holding them captive for hours as he tortured them.
In the weeks of Schmuhl’s trial, prosecutors argued the incident was an act of revenge against Fisher, who had fired Schmuhl’s wife, Alecia, from his law firm weeks earlier. They said the attack was well planned and carefully executed, but the Schmuhls left out one critical detail in their planning.
“They overlooked one vital thing — that is the will of the human spirit,” said Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Casey Lingan. “The will of a human being to fight for their life. The will despite severed arteries and severed veins to pull an alarm.”
Investigators said they found Duncan’s bloody hand print on the home’s panic alarm after she had played dead in front of Schmuhl.
The defense attempted to paint a much different picture of the events that unfolded in those hours. They claimed Schmuhl was taking dozens of medications for back pain and was so heavily under the influence of those drugs that he did not know what he was doing during the attack.
The defense tried to pin the entire plot on Alecia Schmuhl, whom they say purchased prepaid cell phones and tasers while her husband waited in the car.
But prosecutors said Schmuhl is a con artist and always has been. They claimed he made up his back pain to get access to prescription medications.
The jury rejected the defense’s claim that Schmuhl was “involuntarily intoxicated” by the litany of drugs he was on at the time.
Schmuhl will be sentenced at 10 a.m. Thursday. The five most serious charges carry a term of five years to life.
His wife will be tried in September.
Fisher’s law firm released a statement supporting the verdict.
“We are grateful that the jury’s guilty verdicts in the prosecution of Andrew Schmuhl for his brutal assault of our friend and colleague, Leo Fisher, and his wife Sue Duncan, mark the beginining of closure for them,” the statement said. “This was a horrific ordeal no one can fully grasp.”