Anthony Bluml resented his adoptive parents for kicking him out of their house for smoking marijuana, just after he graduated from Valley Center High School. He had to work two jobs to scrape by, while the Blumls gave his younger brother Chris “anything he wanted.”
His biological mother, Kisha Schaberg, didn’t like Roger and Melissa Bluml because she was convinced they were shielding her from Anthony and Chris, her “blood children.”
One night in Arizona as they were returning to Wichita from San Diego last fall, Bluml said, “If we kill my parents, we can get will money,” Braden Smith testified Thursday at a preliminary hearing in Sedgwick County District Court.
Smith testified for about three hours before Judge Jeffrey Goering bound Bluml, 19, Schaberg, 35, and Andrew “Drew” Ellington, 19, over for trial on seven criminal counts. One of those counts is capital murder, meaning they could be sentenced to death if convicted. If they’re not convicted of capital murder, they each could be convicted of two counts of first-degree murder.
Smith, who reached a plea deal with prosecutors, testified he provided guns for Schaberg and Ellington to take with them on the night Roger and Melissa were shot in the head outside their rural Valley Center home last Nov. 15. In exchange for his testimony, Smith agreed to plead guilty to two counts of second-degree intentional murder. Prosecutors will ask Goering to sentence Smith to 24.5 years, though the judge does not have to abide by the terms of the plea deal.
As Smith testified, the three other defendants sat with their attorneys at a crowded defense table. Bluml wore blue jeans, sneakers and a green polo shirt over a white T-shirt. Shackles bound his hands and his feet.
Schaberg wore a black jacket and canary yellow blouse. Though she was not handcuffed, she was wearing an ankle bracelet that could be activated like a Taser if she attempted to escape.
Ellington also wore an ankle bracelet, along with a dark blue sport coat, beige slacks and a shirt and tie.
Before testimony began, a Sedgwick County sheriff’s sergeant cautioned spectators filling the benches to refrain from outbursts during what was going to be “an emotionally charged” hearing. Anyone who couldn’t contain themselves, he said, would need to leave.
But there were no outbursts from the audience, and all three defendants remained impassive during the testimony. As the hearing unfolded Thursday morning, Chris Bluml leaned against a courtroom wall on the front row of spectator seating, looking anywhere but toward the defendants’ table.
Smith testified that he provided two .25-caliber pistols for use in the killings. He told Bluml and Schaberg to throw the gun actually fired into a pond in south Wichita and return the other – which had a pearl handle – to him afterward. He also recruited Ellington to serve as a driver. Schaberg and Bluml agreed to pay Ellington $1,000.
Bluml, Smith and Ellington all went to Valley Center High School together.
Ellington was a good person, Smith testified he told Schaberg and Bluml.
Smith said he told them: “Drew was just like me. He won’t run his mouth.”
By “good person,” Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett asked Smith if he meant, “He’ll do this and not tell anybody.”
“Yes, sir,” Smith replied.
Anthony Bluml set the date for the killing on Nov. 15 because his younger brother, Chris, would be away at a wrestling meet, Smith testified. Anthony would take his parents out to dinner. While they were gone, Schaberg and Ellington would break into the Bluml house and steal “a stash of cash” that Anthony Bluml knew about, plus any other valuables that caught their eye.
When the Blumls returned home, Smith said Schaberg later told him, she and Ellington walked out from “the side of the house” and approached the pickup. Melissa Bluml began to open the passenger door and said, “Oh, my gosh – Kisha.” Schaberg blocked the door from opening farther and shot Melissa Bluml once in the head, Smith said.
Roger Bluml’s attention was completely on his wife as Schaberg walked around the front of the vehicle to the driver’s side, Smith testified she later told him. She opened the driver’s door, pointed the gun and pulled the trigger.
But it didn’t fire.
“It clicked, like, three times before it actually fired,” Smith said, relaying what he said was Schaberg’s account of events.
When it finally fired, Roger Bluml was shot once in the head.
Melissa, 53, died the next day. Roger, 48, died about five weeks later.
Immediately after the shooting, Schaberg and Ellington drove to where he was partying with a group of friends, Smith testified. Ellington called him from the vehicle, saying Schaberg was having an “anxiety attack.” Smith said he rolled a marijuana joint and took it out to the car, where the three of them smoked together.
“Was there any discussion about what just happened?” Bennett asked.
No, Smith said, but Kisha did say “Drew did good. Drew was great.” When Smith looked at him, Ellington just smiled.
The marijuana wasn’t calming Schaberg enough, he said. She asked for “a dab,” a more intense form of marijuana extracted from the plant’s flower. They went inside to smoke that and she finally began to calm down.
The next day, Smith testified, Anthony Bluml called him and told him he had a half-pound of marijuana that he’d purchased using cash taken from the Bluml house. He’d paid $1,800 for it and sold it to Smith at a $100 profit. Smith, in turn, sold it to various customers and netted a profit of “somewhere between $150 and $200” on the transactions.
Smith said Anthony Bluml told him he went to see Roger in the hospital after the shooting. While he was there, a family member told him he likely wasn’t in the will. There would be no “will money.”
After that, Smith testified, Anthony was “flat” emotionally.
Schaberg’s girlfriend has told The Eagle that Anthony Bluml reunited with Schaberg in San Diego months before the killings, after the two had communicated through social media. Smith, who lived in Park City, went with Anthony Bluml to California.
They left Wichita, Smith testified Thursday, because he had been robbed twice in a short period of time. He lost money – obtained through drug deals – in one of the robberies, and lost marijuana in the other.
While they were in California, Smith said, Schaberg told them she once drove to where the Blumls lived and parked down the street outside their house and planned on shooting them, “but she was too scared and didn’t follow through.”
Smith said he believed Schaberg wanted to kill the Blumls for their money, but “a little out of hatred, too.”
The Blumls were shot two weeks after Smith, Anthony Bluml and Schaberg returned to Wichita.
Defense attorney Jay Greeno, who represents Ellington, asked Smith why he provided the guns to Schaberg and Bluml knowing “they were going to be used in a murder.”
“Did that give you any cause for concern?” Greeno asked.
“Yes,” Smith replied, “but they were my friends, so I was going to do it for them.”
“Even though it meant ending the life of two innocent human beings?” Greeno pressed.
“Yes, sir,” Smith replied.
Under cross-examination, attorneys for the defendants challenged Smith’s account, pointing out inconsistencies.
“My memory of this whole thing is not good,” Smith said while being questioned by Jeffrey Wicks, Schaberg’s attorney.
That, Wicks suggested, was because of Smith’s heavy drug use. Smith admitted to taking three to six Xanax pills a day, as well as smoking marijuana daily.
His marijuana use began at the age of 14, Smith testified, and gradually increased. He dropped out of high school as a junior and eventually was smoking several blunts – cigar wrappers emptied of tobacco and filled with marijuana – every day.
Smith, Bluml, Ellington and Schaberg are being held in the Sedgwick County Jail on $2 million bond. Goering said individual trial dates for Bluml, Ellington and Schaberg would be set later.