Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

October 22, 2012

Judge finds Schmitt not guilty by reason of insanity

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — The long legal journey of a former Effingham man who admitted killing his father and stabbing an Edgewood mother and daughter is winding down.

    Gary B. Schmitt, 48, was found not guilty by reason of insanity in connection with both the murder of his father, Jack. D. Schmitt, and the stabbings of Kimberly J. (Jodi) Harris and her daughter, Lauran Huntington.

    The elder Schmitt was found dead at his Effingham home in the summer of 2010, while Harris and Huntington were attacked at their home on Jan. 16, 2011.

    After a pair of stipulated bench trials Friday in Effingham County Circuit Court, Judge Kimberly Koester found that Schmitt — a former school board member in a Metro East school district — did not understand the criminal nature of his acts because of mental conditions that include schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder.

    Koester ordered Schmitt to be evaluated by the Illinois Department of Human Services before a commitment hearing set for 10 a.m. Nov. 28. State’s Attorney Ed Deters told the judge he had been in contact with mental health centers in Alton and Elgin. Koester ordered DHS to provide her with a report before the Nov. 28 hearing.

    Schmitt could have been sentenced to consecutive prison terms of 30 years for the stabbings and 60 years for the murder. Instead, he will be held at a secure mental health facility for an indefinite period.

    Defense attorney Michael Mettes said after the hearing that the case could not have been resolved any other way.

    “It was pretty clear that Mr. Schmitt was suffering from a psychosis,” Mettes said. “It was obvious that there was no motive for the attacks.”

    Deters said both Harris and Huntington planned to deliver victim impact statements at the Nov. 28 hearing.

    Schmitt has been held without bond at Effingham County Jail since his arrest.

    In a stipulated bench trial, attorneys for both sides agree