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Woman unable to prove attorney actions were prejudicial

August 13, 2012

A woman’s petition for post-conviction relief on the grounds her trial counsel was ineffective was denied by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Anastazia Schmid was told on March 2, 2001, that her boyfriend, Tony Heathcote, allegedly had molested her daughter from a prior marriage. While Schmid and Heathcote were having sexual relations on March 4, 2001, Heathcote suggested that Schmid play the part of the little girl and he would play the part of the daddy. This statement caused Schmid to think of her daughter. She then got a knife and began stabbing Heathcote who was blindfolded and restrained at the ankles. He was stabbed 39 times and died. Later, Schmid indicated that at the time of the stabbing she had heard a voice telling her that she was the messiah and Heathcote was evil and needed to be eliminated.

Following a jury trial, Schmid was convicted with verdicts of guilty but mentally ill. She then appealed her convictions of Class C felony battery by means of a deadly weapon, Class C felony criminal recklessness by means of a deadly weapon, Class B felony aggravated battery, Class C felony battery resulting in serious injury, murder, and two counts of Class D felony criminal recklessness.

On Feb. 7, 2005, Schmid filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. She amended the petition five years later. The post-conviction court denied her petition on Aug. 18, 2011.

“All the arguments Schmid raises in this appeal assert her trial attorneys were ineffective,” Judge Melissa May wrote for the majority. The court reviewed her claim under the two-part test announced in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). To prevail, she must show counsel’s performance fell below an objective level of reasonableness based on prevailing norms and that deficient performance resulted in prejudice.

Schmid argued that her attorneys should have raised the “justified reasonable force” defense; that her attorneys should have asked for another competency hearing after she was found competent to stand trial; that her attorneys did not communicate a plea offer; and that her attorneys denied her the right to testify in her own defense at trial.

The COA found that Schmid did not demonstrate counsels’ alleged errors were prejudicial and affirmed the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief.
 

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