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Life in prison for teen convicted in Harlem murder

Aaron Schmidt gets life without parole

Posted: March 2, 2012 - 10:13am  |  Updated: March 3, 2012 - 4:35pm
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Aaron Schmidt is led from Columbia County Superior Court Friday morning after Judge Michael Annis sentenced him to life in prison without parole for the murder of his 14-year-old neighbor Alana Calahan.  Jim Blaylock
Jim Blaylock
Aaron Schmidt is led from Columbia County Superior Court Friday morning after Judge Michael Annis sentenced him to life in prison without parole for the murder of his 14-year-old neighbor Alana Calahan.

Twitter @ValerieRowell

A Harlem 15-year-old convicted of murder last month for shooting his 14-year-old friend will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Superior Court Judge Michael Annis sentenced Lacy Aaron Schmidt to life in prison without parole plus five years Friday for his Feb. 10 conviction for murder, theft and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

He was convicted of shooting Calahan inside her Miles Road home. Annis highlighted Schmidt's complete lack of emotion during the trial before handing down the stiffest sentence possible.

"He was emotionless, remorseless during his interviews ... through the entire course of the trial," Annis said. "No remorse. No 'I'm sorry.' No nothing."

Schmidt could have received a sentence of life with or without the possibility of parole for the murder conviction. The possession charge carries a five-year sentence, to run consecutive to any other sentence.

Schmidt's attorney Penelope Donkar asked the judge for mercy, to allow him the possibility of parole. She said he's had a rough life, having been removed from his parents' custody at a young age . He was placed in the sometimes violent home of his half-sister on Miles Road.

"I think that Aaron has not yet been given a chance yet in his 14 years to come to his full potential," Donkar said. "Aaron has been given virtually no chance."

Alana's father, Paul Calahan Jr., said at the hearing that they knew about Aaron's difficult past, but treated him like a member of the family.

"He had a second chance at our house," he said, referring to the killing of his daughter as cold-blooded murder. "It's hard to live with knowing that somebody we took in did this."

Annis said after seeing all the evidence against Schmidt that he believes the teen waited in the woods with a loaded gun belonging to Alana's father.

"The only thing we have left to hold onto are the memories," Alana's sister, Amanda Calahan, said at the hearing. "To me, that's just not enough."

Schmidt initially claimed he saw an intruder on the property. It was Amanda Calahan, and her younger brother, Chase, who found Alana's body.

"He took my sister," Amanda said. "Then he watched me try to save her. No emotion on his face."

Eventually, Schmidt told authorities he accidentally fired a gun in the family dining room.

Donkar contended at the trial that he "lost it" and that the shooting was a tragic accident.

Sheriff's deputies found the gun in nearby woods. They also found the gun case, ammunition and a camera belonging to the Calahans inside Schmidt's house.

Annis said Schmidt shot Alana and dragged her body outside to nearby woods in the less than six minutes. Amanda Calahan had gone to the bus stop. But he left his shoes inside the front door.

"Everything began to unravel from that point," Annis said. "He timed that murder to perfection. It's like something you'd see on TV."

Schmidt was indicted in March 2011 on charges of murder, theft and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. He pleaded not guilty in May.

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