Alana Calahan’s family shared hugs and a group prayer Thursday outside the Columbia County courtroom, where a jury convicted a 15-year-old Harlem teen of murdering her.
After four days of testimony and four hours of deliberation, the jury found Lacy Aaron Schmidt guilty of murder, theft and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Alana’s parents, Paul and BettyJo Calahan, contained their emotions and simply squeezed each other’s hands as the verdict was read. Their daughter was shot with her father’s 9 mm pistol inside their Miles Road home in January 2011.
A victim’s advocate for the court declined any requests for comments from the family.
Schmidt could receive life in prison with or without parole, Assistant District Attorney Natalie Paine said.
At the request of Schmidt’s attorney, Penelope Donkar, the sentencing will be delayed while she gathers mitigating evidence to present at the hearing.
“These are very serious charges that carry very serious consequences,” Superior Court Judge Michael N. Annis said after approving the request.
The sentencing hearing will be at least 10 days from the conviction to allow time to contact witnesses and victims. The hearing could be scheduled as early as Feb. 23.
Donkar said in her closing arguments Thursday that the shooting was accidental. She said Schmidt lied many times, including claiming that he chased away a burglar, to protect his relationship with the Calahan family.
“He loved that family,” Donkar said. “He would never have hurt that family.”
The details of the shooting are still unclear, but investigators say Schmidt shot Alana, then dragged her body to a wooded path behind her home in the five or six minutes her sister was away.
Paine referred to Schmidt as “a cold-blooded killer” and said he had a “depraved and malignant heart.”
Donkar said Schmidt “lost it” and didn’t know what to do after what she called a tragic accident.
“Her last breaths of life, (Schmidt) doesn’t care,” Paine countered. “He does not help her. He’s more concerned with getting rid of the body.”
Schmidt will remain in the Regional Youth Detention Center until he is sentenced.