Jurors Begin Deliberations in Brutal Virginia Home Invasion Trial | NBC4 Washington

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Jurors Begin Deliberations in Brutal Virginia Home Invasion Trial

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    Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports on jurors getting the Andrew Schmuhl case. (Published Monday, June 13, 2016)

    The trial of a Fairfax County, Virginia, lawyer accused of brutally assaulting a couple in their home in an hours-long attack he claims he does not remember now rests in the hands of jurors.

    Andrew Schmuhl, a former military lawyer, is accused of breaking into the McLean home of lawyer Leo Fisher and his wife Sue Duncan and holding them captive for hours, during which he stabbed, tased and shot the pair in November 2014.

    In the weeks of trial against Schmuhl, prosecutors have claimed he arrived at that couple’s home with a vengeance. Schmuhl’s wife, Alecia, was fired from Fisher’s law firm weeks before the attack, and prosecutors have argued he went to their home to avenge his wife’s dismissal.

    Meanwhile, the defense has painted a much different story of how and why those hours unfolded with such gruesome violence. They claim it was Alecia Schmuhl who planned the attack on the couple, as she was the one who purchased tasers and prepaid cell phones while her husband waited in the car.

    They also claim Andrew Schmuhl was so heavily under the influence of pain medication for back problems that he had no idea what he was doing.

    "There is evidence of planning," the defense said in closing arguments on Monday. "Every piece of direct evidence points to Alecia Schmuhl."

    Schmuhl’s lawyers have claimed he was "involuntarily intoxicated" and was unaware of his own actions at the time of the attack. However, prosecutors presented evidence that Schmuhl is a longtime con artist, and he fabricated a back injury to get access to prescription pain medications.

    Last week, Schmuhl himself testified that he was taking more than a dozen medications at the time of the attack, many of which were administered by his wife, who may have manipulated the dosages. He also claimed to have no memory of the events of the attack.

    "These are not the acts of someone who was in his right mind," the defense said before jurors began their deliberations Monday.

    But prosecutors offered chilling remarks in their closing testimony as they tried to convince jurors Schmuhl was well aware of his actions during the attack. Prosecutors said when Duncan played dead, Schmuhl took time to clean up after himself in an attempt to cover his tracks. 

    Prosecutors claimed the attack was well planned, but not perfect because the Schmuhls were still caught.

    "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."

    Both Fisher and Duncan survived the horrific incident, and investigators said Duncan left a bloody handprint on the home's panic alarm. 

    The jury will likely reach a decision by Tuesday.