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Trial postponed for Hampstead man accused of murder, arson

Robert Charles Schech Sr.
Robert Charles Schech Sr. (Submitted photo / HANDOUT)

The trial of a Hampstead man charged with murder after allegedly setting his house on fire with his wife inside has been postponed.

In a court appearance Thursday, Carroll County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Stansfield found good cause for postponement of the trial of Robert Schech Sr., 70, of the 2600 block of the Hoffman Mill Road. The case has been rescheduled for Jan. 29.

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The defense filed a motion to postpone Wednesday "in order to obtain expert testimony that is a necessary part of the defense," attorney Joseph Murtha, who is representing Schech, said in court Thursday.

The defense is required to supply a copy of their expert's report by Nov. 1, well in advance of trial, so state prosecutors have a chance to review it.

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In addition, Schech waived his right to a speedy trial. Maryland law requires that a criminal case be brought to trial within 180 days unless good cause is shown.

Schech has expressed through his attorney that he wishes to waive his right to a trial by jury. A waiver is likely to occur on the date of the new trial, according to Chief Deputy State's Attorney Jason G. League, meaning Schech would stand trial before a judge only, not a jury of his peers.

Police have arrested the husband of a woman who died in a house fire in Hampstead last month and plan to charge him with setting the fire that killed her.

Schech is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one of which is murder in the commission of a felony; one count of first-degree arson; and one count of first-degree malicious burning, according to electronic court records.

Investigators from the Office of the State Fire Marshal found multiple points of origin in the Nov. 13, 2016, fire that killed Donna Schech, indicating that it was intentionally set.

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Donna Schech died of heat- and smoke-related injuries from the fire, according to the Carroll County Sheriff's Office. She was 55.



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