Opening statements on Monday laid out the case the prosecution and defense would make in the murder trial of a teen accused of shooting a 14-year-old Harlem girl last year.
A prosecutor called Lacy Aaron Schmidt “nothing other than a cold-blooded murderer.” Schmidt’s defense attorney portrayed the Jan. 31, 2011, death of Alana May Calahan as “a case of a seriously traumatized, neglected, abused 14-year-old little boy snapping.”
Authorities allege that Schmidt, now 15, shot the Harlem Middle School eighth-grader as she sat at a computer inside her family dining room. Alana was dragged outside, where Schmidt initially claimed he saw an intruder on the property. After changing his story several times, Schmidt eventually said he was fumbling with the 9 mm handgun belonging to Alana’s father when it went off, striking Alana as she sat at the computer in the dining room.
A grand jury in March indicted Schmidt of murder, theft by taking and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in May.
Witnesses on the first day of the trial included Alana’s parents; her sister, who found her body near the family home; and the Columbia County sheriff’s deputy who arrived first to the scene.
BettyJo Calahan, Alana’s mother, told the jury of seven women and five men that the family had been very close to Schmidt.
“He came over every day,” she said at the trial, which began just after the first anniversary of Alana’s death. “He ate dinner at our table. I treated him like he was one of my own kids.”
Authorities found the gun used in the shooting in nearby woods. They found the gun case and a box of ammunition under a bathroom sink off Schmidt’s bedroom at his home.
The gun’s owner’s manual was found in his dresser drawer, and several items from the Calahan home, including a digital camera and an MP3 player, were found in his bedroom.
A deputy, who tried to resuscitate Alana through CPR, said Schmidt, who was still at the Calahan home when he arrived, showed “no emotion whatsoever.”
Several potential jurors were excused during questioning, including one who knows the Calahans and two who said they believe the case should be tried in Juvenile Court because of Schmidt’s age.
Superior Court Judge Michael Annis, anticipating intense media interest in the case, ordered pooled court coverage. In Session, which provides video for cable channel TrueTV – formerly known as Court TV – wired the courtroom with cameras last week and is the pool provider of video coverage.
The trial will resume at 8:45 a.m. today.