Cumberland Times-News


January 14, 2014

Not enough

Guilty of two murders, sentenced only for one

Stephen Schleuniger confessed to two murders but can only be sentenced for one ... and in our eyes, that’s not nearly enough.

 Shortly after Schleuniger received a 30-year term in Allegany County Circuit on Tuesday for murdering Lisa Ann Simmons, it was revealed that on Friday, he had admitted to killing Tammy Myerly four years ago in Hagerstown.

As part of a plea agreement he reached with the Allegany County state’s attorney’s office in the Simmons case, Schleuniger cannot be charged with the Meyerly slaying.

Schleuniger struck a plea agreement with the Allegany County state’s attorney’s office, agreeing to lead police to where he hid Simmons’ body.

He admitted to beating, stomping and choking Simmons to death last September. In November, he led police to a Winchester, Va., location where he had hidden the woman’s body.

The state’s attorney’s office said the plea agreement had been reached with Schleuniger because Simmons’ body would not have been recovered without his assistance.

 The state recommended a 30-year prison term with 10 years suspended, but Judge  W. Timothy Finan rejected that and ordered Schleuniger to serve the full 30 years.

“I’m struck by the facts in this case,” said Finan. “You brutally killed this young lady ... in a brutal and dramatic way and tried to get away with this. You secreted the body in her home and moved it  to another jurisdiction ... if you hadn’t been caught, you wouldn’t be showing any remorse,” said Finan before imposing the maximum allowable sentence.

Simmons’ mother and brother made victim impact statements to the court describing how the murder touched them emotionally and physically.

Schleuniger also addressed the court, expressing sorrow and asking the victim’s family and his own family for forgiveness. Considering his previous confession in the Myerly case, we agree with Judge Finan that it is difficult to accept the sincerity of his apology.

Critics of our judicial system often decry what they view as lenient sentences for hardened criminals. What is usually not considered is that judges have to go by narrow guidelines that often give them little leeway in either “throwing the book” at a defendant or, if the situation merits, showing mercy.

It’s a situation that judges detest, saying it limits their ability to use the professional experience, knowledge and other qualities that got them to the bench in the first place.

Schleuniger received the maximum sentence that Judge Finan could give him in the Simmons case. He should serve every one of those 30 years. It may have even have the effect of a life sentence, considering that he would be 74 years old at the time of his release. He will not, however, serve one day for killing Tammy Myerly.

While we understand the prosecution’s need to offer a plea deal to find Simmons’ body, it is difficult to swallow the fact that Schleuniger will get off with no prison time for the murder in Hagerstown.

Schleuniger admitted to both crimes. One victim’s body was recovered, and the other victim’s murderer is now known for a certainty.

If there is any satisfaction to be derived from this, it is the fact that those books can now be closed ... if indeed they ever can be closed in the minds of those who knew Schleuniger’s victims.

Text Only
  • Big loophole Big loophole

    How ironic — and how sad — that the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority plans a closed executive session to discuss the open meetings law.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Preposterous Preposterous

    File this one under the We Thought We’d Heard Everything category: A man who attempted the armed robbery of a pizza shop is now suing the pizzeria and the employees who tackled him and wrestled his gun away during the holdup.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • No secrets No secrets

    The idea of fracturing for natural gas makes many people anxious about potential harmful effects. For that reason alone, it is incumbent on Maryland government to require full disclosure of chemicals used in the process.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don’t do it. Don’t do it

    Temperatures have been moderate recently but are projected to rise to the upper 80s and low 90s later this week, so we want to remind you: Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • July 20, 1969 July 20, 1969

    When Apollo 11 landed on the moon 45 years ago today, it was until that time the mostwatched television programming in history.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stopgap

    Kicking the can down the road was one of the things American kids did to pass the time in the old days, particularly if they lived in rural areas where there was little traffic to contend with.

    July 16, 2014

  • Maryland on target to meet 2025 bay restoration goals

    July 16, 2014

  • Tough luck Tough luck

    The state has for a second time declined to help Allegany County get federal flood recovery funds in the wake of the June 12 storm.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Heard it all Heard it all

    Pesky thing, this requirement that political candidates file campaign finance reports.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Build it now Build it now

    Anticipated savings from demolition work that will provide ground for a new Allegany High School on Haystack Mountain may allow the addition of an auditorium at the school.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo