Two Virginia lawyers accused of terrorizing a Fairfax County couple will now be tried separately.
Andrew and Alecia Schmuhl are charged with abduction and malicious wounding for the 2014 attack on another lawyer and his wife in their McLean home. Alecia Schmuhl had recently been fired from the victim's law firm.
Andrew Schmuhl's lawyers asked for separate trials when they learned his wife might use the defense that she's been a victim of years of spousal abuse and was programmed to do whatever her husband asked.
The judge ruled Friday the couple will get separate trials. Andrew Schmuhl will be tried first in mid-May. His wife will be tried later in the summer.
The victims were tortured and almost killed before they were able to activate a panic alarm.
Victim Leo Fisher testified at a preliminary hearing that a man knocked on the door Nov. 9, 2014, claiming to be an officer, but then burst into the home and stunned him with a Taser. The attacker bound the victim and slit his throat. The victim's wife, Susan Duncan, was stabbed and shot. The bullet grazed her head.
Fisher testified he recognized the attacker as Alecia Schmuhl's husband.
Prosecutors believe Alecia Schmuhl was just outside the home during the attack, communicating by phone with her husband.
Police arrested the Schmuhls after a brief chase, and found Andrew Schmuhl clad only in a diaper.