It looks like the Schatz trial is off. There has been a plea bargain. Here is the story from KHSL-TV:
The Paradise couple accused of beating their adopted daughter to death and critically injuring another will not be going trial after reaching a last minute plea deal with prosecutors. Trial for Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz was to begin Monday, but on Friday afternoon Kevin Schatz agreed to plead guilty to all the charges against him, including first degree murder and torture, in exchange for a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter for his wife.
The agreement means the couple’s children will not have to testify in court. Both entered guilty pleas Friday afternoon. Butte County district attorney Mike Ramsey says Kevin Schatz faces two life sentences and will not be eligible for parole for 22 years. Elizabeth Schatz agreed to the maximum sentence of 13 years, four months. The couple is set to be formally sentenced June 10th. There six biological children and two surviving adopted children remain in foster care.
And here is the more in depth story from the Chico E.R. pasted here for permanence.
Couple plead guilty in fatal Paradise child beatingBy RYAN OLSON – Staff WriterPosted: 04/09/2011 12:05:58 AM PDT
OROVILLE — A trial for a Paradise couple facing murder charges for beating one adopted daughter to death and injuring another ended before it began after the pair entered unexpected guilty pleas Friday.
Elizabeth and Kevin Schatz were expected to go to trial Monday in Butte County Superior Court for the Feb. 4 and 5, 2010, beating of adopted daughters Lydia Schatz, 7, and her then 11-year-old sister.
Lydia died of her injuries; the older girl required hospitalization but recovered.
The Schatzes’ defense team and Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey had spent Friday with Judge Kristen Lucena discussing final motions before starting jury selection. As Ramsey prepared to leave the courtroom, defense attorneys Michael Harvey and Kevin Sears asked him to stay about a possible plea bargain.
Court was called back into session and Kevin Schatz pleaded guilty to one count each of second-degree murder, torture and misdemeanor cruelty to a child. He will serve at least 22 years of a 22-to-life prison sentence.
Elizabeth Schatz pleaded guilty to single counts of voluntary manslaughter, infliction of unlawful corporal punishment on a child and misdemeanor cruelty to a child. She will be sentenced to the maximum 13 years, four months in prison.
Both also face a six-month county jail sentence, and $20,000 fines each.
If the pair had been convicted on the original charges of first-degree murder and torture, they would’ve each faced maximum sentences of two life terms
Outside the courtroom, Ramsey said he was satisfied with the verdict and the resolution for the victims — who were reportedly whipped for hours with a length of plumber’s supply line. He remarked that the likely sentences mean the Schatzes would no longer be in control of their children’s lives.
“Now, at least for the children, they can get it behind them,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey said he insisted that the couple plead guilty to the charges instead of pleading no contest — where defendants can stand silent while a judge convicts them based on evidence.
The murder and manslaughter charges were for Lydia Schatz’s death. The torture counts applied for her older sister’s injuries. The misdemeanor charges applied for injuries against a son who was 10 at the time.
Ramsey said the prosecution accepted a lesser manslaughter charge for Elizabeth Schatz because there was evidence she was under the control of her husband during and after the incidents. However, he required that Kevin Schatz plead to murder.
Outside of the courtroom, Sears said his client, Elizabeth Schatz, regretted what happened.
“She feels very remorseful over what happened to her children and she was very anxious to accept responsibility,” Sears said.
Had the matter gone to a jury, Sears said he didn’t believe the panel would find Elizabeth Schatz guilty of murder. He said the bargain’s terms were close to a probable jury verdict.
Harvey said his client took the bargain because it will spare his wife from serving a longer sentence. It also eliminated the need for his children to testify in court — most of the Schatzes’ six biological children and the older adopted daughter were listed as possible trial witnesses.
“He felt that was his duty as a father to his family,” Harvey said.
While there has been discussion about the Schatzes’ whippings being based on “biblical chastisements” drawn from the teachings of a fundamentalist religious organization known as No Greater Joy Ministry, Ramsey said he hadn’t planned to focus on the teachings in his prosecution.
He said he had been prepared to address it if it was raised by the defense.
Sentencing will take place on June 10. The couple remain in custody at Butte County Jail.
Staff writer Ryan Olson can be reached at 896-7763 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, the Mankato Examiner has an article about the case with the same info plus more background. This article is great for sharing.