Janesville man sentenced to 28 years in prison for beating death
JANESVILLE No 16-year-old girl should have to plan her mother's funeral, Sarah Johnson said.
She should know.
She's been there.
"Try to imagine the worst thing that could possibly happen to you and how you would feel," Johnson said in court Tuesday. "That's how I feel. I've already had to deal with mine."
Judge James Daley sentenced Michael R. Paul to 28 years in prison and 12 years of extended supervision for death of Lisa M. Schaefer, 49. Schaefer, who was Johnson's mother, died in January in the home she shared with Paul.
Johnson and other family members spoke Tuesday during a sentencing hearing for Paul, who had been a family friend before beating Schaefer to death and hiding her body under the basement stairs.
Paul, 37, formerly of 326 S. Parker Drive, Janesville, pleaded guilty in September to a reduced charge of first-degree reckless homicide. He had been charged with first-degree intentional homicide. A charge of hiding a corpse was dismissed but read into the record.
Police on Jan. 10 found Schaefer's body under piles of rags and clothing. Investigators think Paul killed Schaefer on Jan. 7.
Schaefer's injuries indicated someone might have knelt on her chest and pummeled her, Dane County Chief Medical Examiner Vincent Tranchida said at a February court hearing. Her eyes and face were badly bruised, Tranchida said. Some of the bruises on her neck and forehead were consistent with a shoeprint, Tranchida said.
Schaefer's jaw was broken in more than one place, and some teeth were knocked out of her mouth. Some of her neck bones were fractured, and she had broken ribs on each side of her chest.
In court Tuesday, Schaefer's family members said she was a creative, loving woman who was optimistic about 2012. She had planned to make big changes in her life, her daughter Dawn Frank said Tuesday in court.
Frank quoted from a status her mom had posted on Facebook.
"‘The new year will bring a lot of changes, and look out world, it's my year,'" Frank read. "‘Change is my best friend.'"
She had been busy with plans for her daughters, Johnson said.
"The day she was murdered, she was talking about prom," Johnson said. "She pushed me to sing and into music, and she was so proud of me. Now, she'll never get to attend my concerts she so looked forward to."
Schaefer's brother Frank Schaefer had worked with Paul for more than 11 years and considered him a close friend, Frank Schaefer said.
"I truly believe this will haunt our family forever," he said.
Not long before her death, Lisa Schaefer had reunited with a son she had given up for adoption when she was a teen, according to a letter the man's adopted parents wrote. A relative, Thomas Frank, read the letter in court.
"‘We had hoped to one day meet Lisa and personally thank her for her selfless act that brought us so much joy,'" Thomas Frank read.
Daley said the statements of Schaefer's family make it clear they will live in pain for a long time. He wants to make sure Paul can't harm any more innocent people, he said.
"I want you to be old enough to not be able to do this ever again to anybody," Daley said.
Paul said he is not the "cold-blooded, heartless murderer the district attorney's office, Ms. Schaefer's family and the media" make him out to be.
"I am a kind, loving, caring and compassionate man," Paul said.
He said Schaefer's death was a terrible tragedy that happened to him and a very dear loved one.
Moments after Paul said that, Daley passed sentence and then ignored Paul when he asked to stay at the Rock County Jail long enough for a visit from his sister. Daley said the sister could just as easily visit Paul at Dodge Correctional Facility.
Paul swore loudly at Daley before storming out of the courtroom.