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Appeals Court Upholds Verdict in Sword Killing

Associated Press
Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page PW18

RICHMOND -- The Virginia Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed the murder and conspiracy convictions of a woman who arranged the sword slaying of her father in Loudoun County.

Clara Jane Schwartz was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy in the Dec. 8, 2001, death of biophysicist Robert M. Schwartz. She was sentenced to 48 years in prison.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court unanimously rejected several claims by Schwartz, including that she was denied a speedy trial and that the trial court improperly barred evidence about an accomplice's mental health.

The appeals court said that Loudoun County Circuit Judge Thomas D. Horne did not err in delaying Schwartz's trial until after the investigating officer recovered from back surgery. The court also said the judge was correct in refusing to allow mental health records and testimony by the psychologist who evaluated Kyle Hulbert, who was accused of wielding the sword that killed Schwartz's 57-year-old father. The psychologist was an agent of Hulbert's defense attorney, and disclosure of that information would have compromised attorney-client privilege, the appeals court ruled.

Hulbert, of Millersville, Md., eventually pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

Schwartz, who was a James Madison University student at the time, had told Hulbert that her father hit her, pulled her hair and poisoned her food. Hulbert told police he killed Robert Schwartz with the two-foot-long sword because he was haunted by images of his friend's suffering.

Michael P. Pfohl of Haymarket pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 18 years in prison for driving Hulbert to the victim's remote farmhouse.

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