Nothing like a daughter's love... - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 09-25-2006, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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Nothing like a daughter's love...

...except, perhaps, a celebratory beer after you have your boyfriend bludgeon your father.

Trial opens for Fla. teen accused of enlisting her boyfriend to kill her father

By Harriet Ryan

Court TV

SANFORD, Fla. — Two years ago, a 20-year-old man named Michael Morin bludgeoned his teenage girlfriend's father to death with a baseball bat. Although he later claimed to have blacked out, there was no doubt that Morin committed the crime. By his own admission, he came to in the victim's home covered in blood and holding the murder weapon.

What is in dispute at a trial this week in Seminole County Circuit Court is the role the victim's own daughter played in the brutal slaying. Authorities allege that 16-year-old Courtney Schulhoff was the cold, calculating mastermind of the murder, giving her older lover the bat, pointing him toward the bedroom where her father slept and opening a celebratory beer afterward.

While she is not accused of physically participating in the assault that left her father, Steve, 48, dead, she faces the same charge as Morin: first-degree murder. A conviction means a mandatory life sentence. Morin will be tried separately next month.

Prosecutors have said the motive was the pair's lust for money, freedom and each other. Steve Schulhoff had gone to the police before his death seeking information about how to rein in his unruly daughter, who had already been arrested once for stealing checks from him. He told an officer that she was using his credit card without permission and had let Morin sneak into the house at night for sex. Two days later, Steve Schulhoff was dead.

The case, which begins Monday with jury selection, turns on two competing versions of the crime offered by the young lovers. Within hours of their arrests, the couple's obsessive devotion gave way to blame. Morin said Schulhoff had pressured him into committing the crime with shocking and apparently false tales of abuse by her father. Schulhoff said Morin killed her father of his own accord to avoid going back to jail and then threatened her into silence. A jury will have to decide which account is true.

Schulhoff and Morin met through his ex-girlfriend and began dating about a year before the Feb. 10, 2004, murder. Her parents were divorced and she lived with her father in Altamonte Springs. Morin's father later told police, "His son's life spiraled downhill when he met Courtney."

Morin, his father said, was "athletic and intelligent, but everything took a back seat to Courtney." According to Morin, about a month into the relationship, Schulhoff confided in him about beatings at the hands of her father.

"Morin said that Schulhoff seemed introverted and he felt she had been psychologically damaged as the result of the abuse," a police officer later wrote in a report.

Investigators never found any proof of abuse, but Morin insisted he believed Schulhoff and felt pressured to defend her.

In August, he stole his father's car and the couple started to drive to Maryland to ask Schulhoff's grandparents for money so they could be independent. They turned back, however, and Morin was arrested for grand theft auto and served 70 days in jail.

On Feb. 9, the day before the murder, the pair went to the movies and, according to Morin, Schulhoff said that her father had discovered she was using his credit card to buy clothes online and had beaten and choked her.

"Morin said that Courtney begged him to kill her father," according to a police report.

He gave police this account: He and Schulhoff returned to her apartment at 2 a.m. after a movie double-feature. She told him they had to kill her father and then went into his bedroom to make sure he was asleep and remove the family dog.

"He said that when Courtney came back she told him she had placed a baseball bat outside her father's bedroom door," according to a detective's report.

Morin claims not to recall the beating. He told police that afterwards, Schulhoff was giddy and wanted to see her father's body, but he would not let her.

She seemed "happy and relieved and told him that this was the first time the two of them could be together without fear," he told officers. They later went out to McDonald's to eat, using money from her father's wallet.

Although Schulhoff echoed her boyfriend's account of blasé behavior after the murder — in addition to eating fast food, the couple took a long nap in the house with her father's body — the rest of her account differed markedly.

According to the teenager, Morin believed that interference from her father was going to result in his being sent back to jail on a probation violation. She told police that he had told his probation officer that he was staying at the Schulhoff home, but when the officer called to check up on him, Steve Schulhoff said he had never given Morin permission to do so. The officer filed an arrest warrant.

Schulhoff said that Morin believed he would be able to remain free if her father was out of the picture. She told officers that she talked her boyfriend out of killing her father several times and was walking the dog when he attacked him. She said that when she returned to the apartment, he burst outside and said, "Problem solved!"

"Then he told me that if I called the cops, that he was gonna kill me or find a way to kill me, because he knew bounty hunters or something like that. And I don't even know what a bounty hunter is," she told police.

It is unclear whether Schulhoff will take the stand. Prosecutors are expected to call detectives who will recount other, unrecorded interviews the teenager gave in which she admitted more knowledge of the plot than in taped statements. Jurors are also likely to hear testimony of friends who claim Schulhoff's hatred of her father was well-known.

The trial will be streamed live on Court TV Extra.

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. (Winston Churchill)
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 09-25-2006, 04:39 PM
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 09-25-2006, 04:46 PM
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