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Harlem teen convicted of murdering 14-year-old friend

Harlem boy could get life in prison

Posted: February 10, 2012 - 10:05am  |  Updated: February 12, 2012 - 5:02am
Lacy Aaron Schmidt stands with his attorney, Penelope Donkar, as the jury renders a guilty verdict on all charges in the murder of Alana Calahan.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Lacy Aaron Schmidt stands with his attorney, Penelope Donkar, as the jury renders a guilty verdict on all charges in the murder of Alana Calahan.

Twitter @ValerieRowell

A 15-year-old Harlem teen convicted of murdering his 14-year-old friend won’t be sentenced for at least two weeks.

A Columbia County jury convicted Lacy Aaron Schmidt, 15, of Miles Road, Thursday of murder, theft by taking and possession of a firearm during commission of a crime after more than three days of testimony and four hours of deliberation.

The jury convicted Schmidt of shooting Alana May Calahan, 14, on Jan. 31, 2011, inside her Miles Road home. Malice and forethought are essential elements of a murder charge.

Schmidt’s defense attorney, Penelope Donkar, asked to delay the sentencing hearing to gather mitigating evidence to present at the hearing. It won’t be scheduled until at least 10 days after the conviction in order to give ample time to contact witnesses and victims in the case.

The sentencing could be held as early as Feb. 23.

Assistant District Attorney Natalie Paine, who joined the Calahan family for prayer after the verdict, said Schmidt could receive life with or without parole.

In prison, juveniles convicted as adults are held separate from adults by the state Department of Corrections until they reach age 17, said Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ashley Wright.

In her closing arguments Thursday morning, Paine called Schmidt a “cold-blooded murderer,” and said he has a “depraved, malignant heart.”

Thursday morning, defense attorney Penelope Donkar argued that voluntary or involuntary manslaughter should be considered, but Annis ruled against allowing the jury to take into account those lesser charges.

Donkar argued that the shooting was a “tragic accident.” She said Schmidt had a difficult childhood and loved the Calahan family, and would never intentionally hurt them.

“This is not cold-blooded murder,” Donkar said in her closing arguments. “This is an accident ... that should never have happened, and when this accident happened, Aaron lost his mind.”

Alana was shot in the back of the neck with her father’s 9mm pistol as she sat in her dining room at the family’s computer updating Facebook photos. Investigators say Schmidt, who laid in wait in the woods until Alana’s sister left for a few minutes, shot Alana, then dragged her body to a nearby wooded trail.

“Her last breaths of life, (Schmidt) doesn’t care,” Paine said. “He does not help her. He’s more concerned with getting rid of the body.”

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