A man convicted of killing his wife was sentenced to life in prison Friday by a judge who delivered his ruling in rhyming verse, saying he was inspired by the murderer, who left a threatening poem next to the victim's body.
David Lee Schoenecker, 50, was convicted in August of fatally shooting Gail Mae Schoenecker, 40. The husband said he killed his wife after she uncovered his murderous plans to avenge grudges against relatives and former friends.Before the sentencing, Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald recounted the poem found by police next to Mrs. Schoenecker's body in May 1989.
It threatened several of the couple's relatives and friends, as well as Schoenecker's ex-wife.
"I made my list, I'm checking it twice, I'm going to find out who's naughty, not nice . . . All on the list will go to their grave, all with the help of friendly old Dave," Schoenecker's poem read, in part.
The judge then read his own poem:
"You won't kill in the night nor kill in the day.
All on your list can go their merry way.
You killed your sweet wife who loved you so dear.
For that you're being punished, let me make that fact clear.
"The sentence I've chosen, to you may seem cold.
You'll pay and you'll pay. All the while you'll grow old.
One day you will die. A funeral your warden will hold.
For you will serve your entire natural life and not be paroled."
Fitzgerald concluded: "The court imposes life without parole."
Schoenecker was arrested in May 1989 while hiking in Montana, a day after The Orange County Register printed a letter of confession.
In the letter, Schoenecker wrote that he killed his wife after she had uncovered his plot to kill relatives and friends to avenge wrongs they allegedly committed against him.
Some people on the list later said they had no idea why he hated them.