Andrew and Alecia Schmuhl, Virginia couple, both lawyers on trial for home invasion, torturing, stabbing wife’s former boss and slitting his throat
Alecia and Andrew Schmuhl
Gangster husband-and-wife lawyer duo, Andrew and Alecia Schmuhl on trial for abduction, aggravated malicious wounding, using a firearm and burglary
Alecia Schmuhl fired from law firm, Andrew Schmuhl invaded the home of his wife’s former boss, the firm’s managing partner Leo Fisher
Tortured Fisher and his wife Sue Duncan, shot thema and slit Fisher’s throat, stabbed Duncan multiple times leaving both for dead
McLean home invasion victim: Intruder ‘would jump on me and stab me over and over’
Defense – Andrew Schmuhl was “involuntarily intoxicated” by the medications
Prosecution -It’s “about revenge” “It’s about greed. It’s about anger. It’s about torture. And it’s about total depravity.”
Recounting the events of night of the attack, Sue Duncan said she heard a commotion in the foyer of her McLean home one Sunday night and walked out to find her husband of 40 years lying on the floor, his hands and feet tied. A man in a fedora and dark jacket told her he was with “the Virginia SEC” and, in moments, he had tied her hands and feet, too.
That began a three-hour ordeal in November 2014 that ended with Duncan and her husband Leo Fisher, stabbed and left for dead. Both lived, and a lawyer who allegedly held and questioned them before shooting and stabbing them, Andrew G. Schmuhl, is on trial today in Fairfax County Circuit Court for abduction, aggravated malicious wounding, using a firearm and burglary.
Fairfax Chief Deputy Attorney, Casey Lingan said the crimes allegedly committed by Schmuhl were partly “about revenge” for the firing of his wife, Alecia Schmuhl, from Fisher’s Arlington law firm, Bean, Kinney and Korman. Lingan added, “It’s about greed. It’s about anger. It’s about torture. And it’s about total depravity.”
Recounting the sequence of events that started at the home of Fisher and Duncan, just off Georgetown Pike, and ended in a Springfield strip mall with the arrest of both Schmuhls 30 minutes later, the DA said Andrew Schmuhl had disrobed during the couple’s flight from McLean. He was found wearing only a diaper when he was pulled from the car. His bloody clothes, a Taser he allegedly used to force his way into the McLean home, and a shopping list of items he allegedly wrote during the planning phase of the assault also were found in the vehicle.
Law firm managing partner Leo Fisher had his throat slit. His home was invaded by Andrew Schmuhl. He and his wife were then tased, shot and stabbed
Defense attorney Andrew Elders, in his opening statement, rattled off a list of a dozen medications he said Schmuhl was taking for pain and mental health, and said “something was horribly wrong with Andy Schmuhl’s mental state on that night.” He did not deny that Schmuhl entered the house, bound Fisher and Duncan, slit Fisher’s throat, shot and grazed Duncan in the head, then repeatedly stabbed Duncan before leaving. “The cause of the problem was his medications,” Elders said.
He said Schmuhl’s actions during the three-hour attack were so absurd that he was obviously unaware of what he was doing. The defense is hoping to prove Schmuhl was “involuntarily intoxicated” by the medications, a legal but rarely successful defense in Virginia. He noted Fisher had a previous confrontation with Schmuhl in the Bean Kinney offices, that Fisher knew Schmuhl well from legal contract work Schmuhl had done for the firm yet Schmuhl took no steps to conceal his face and repeatedly referred to himself as Jeff. He said Schmuhl flashed a novelty badge as he entered.
“The crimes don’t make any sense,” Elders said. And though Schmuhl is charged with two counts of abduction for pecuniary gain, he asked for money only once near the end of the assault and didn’t take anything from Fisher and Duncan’s house. If he intended to kill his captives, Elders asked, why didn’t he do it instead of waiting three hours and asking many questions about Fisher’s supposed ties to a Mexican cartel and a murder-for-hire plot.
The home invasion by taser, gun and knife armed Andrew (right) was triggered by Alecia getting fired by her law firm
Elders also asserted that Alecia Schmuhl was the mastermind of the attack and that she was directing her husband by cell phone from outside of the house, providing him questions and directions. She faces the same charges in a separate trial set for September.
Duncan was the first witness. Then 61, she described being shocked by the man standing over her husband in the foyer, who claimed that Fisher was under arrest. Duncan was doubly frightened because Fisher had had a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery the year before, and appeared to be having trouble breathing.
She testified that Schmuhl took them both to the master bedroom and had them lie on the bed while he quizzed them about the law firm and the murder-for-hire plot. She said he took them to their home office, where he ordered Fisher to log in to his work email account and find emails from a month earlier.
Back in the bedroom, she said Schmuhl ordered her into a bathroom while he questioned Fisher further. At one point when her husband didn’t respond to her cries, she moved into the bedroom and saw the assailant “lying on top of Leo, he was cutting his throat. I said ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ And he jumped off the bed and he was shouting at me to ‘Get out, don’t come in here ma’am, get out.’”
Duncan, sobbing, continued in court: “I saw he had a gun in his hand. I felt the bullet. I fell down on the floor.” She had been grazed by a shot. The man left the bedroom.
“I started crawling across the bed” to reach a phone, Duncan testified through tears. “He jumped on the bed and started stabbing me. So I collapsed and he got off. So I got up and he would jump on me and stab me over and over. And he would get off. This happened three or four times.” Finally, she played dead and the man left the room.
Duncan said the couple had an alarm system in the house and she pressed a panic button, which triggered a loud alarm. But when she went to another phone to call 911, she said she saw Schmuhl still in the house and that he was leaving. Police arrived quickly, then paramedics who hustled the couple to the hospital. Police were not sure either victim would survive, but Lingan said trauma surgeons at Inova Fairfax Hospital saved their lives.
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