A mother and son who a witness says devised and executed a plot to rob and kill a Valley Center couple over hatred and for money were ordered Tuesday to serve life in prison on capital murder convictions. Neither Kisha Schaberg nor Anthony “Tony” Bluml has options for parole.
The pair is accused along with two of Bluml’s friends in the Nov. 15, 2013, shootings of Bluml’s adoptive parents, Roger and Melissa Bluml. Both pleaded no contest last month to aggravated robbery and capital murder to avoid the death penalty. In accepting plea deals from prosecutors, they gave up the right to appeal their convictions and sentences.
Each will serve life in prison for the capital murder conviction, plus 122 months on two aggravated robbery convictions. The sentences will run consecutively.
District Judge Ben Burgess, who presided over Bluml’s sentencing, called the additional 10-year prison term and other provisions “legal fiction” – but necessary to follow court procedure – because a defendant ordered to serve life imprisonment without parole eligibility will never be released.
The sentences mean “two more chapters were closed in this case for the family,” Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Tuesday after the hearings. The families of both the victim and the accused suffer in homicides, he said, but “this is the rare case where they are one and the same.”
“I’m not going to sit here and try to gauge or put a sliding scale on suffering, but they have been through a lot. And this is a rare … thing for a family to go through – to not only know that you lost family members but that one of your own was responsible.”
Bennett said Anthony Bluml and Schaberg knew the sentence because it was outlined in the deal negotiated with prosecutors.
“The die was cast when the plea occurred. Life without the possibility of parole was the only option available. … There’s nothing more to say,” he said. “These were terrible, horrendous crimes, and I’m just pleased that the judges today were able to impose a just sentence for the family to give them some closure and start to begin to put this behind them.”
Schaberg, 36, will be the only woman serving a life prison sentence with no parole eligibility in a Kansas state prison, according to the Kansas Department of Corrections.
Bluml, 20, will be among 26 men serving such a sentence, the corrections department said Tuesday.
According to testimony at a hearing last summer, Bluml and Schaberg planned the killings – recruiting friends to provide guns and drive the getaway car – because they wanted money and were upset that Bluml had been kicked out of the house for using marijuana. Schaberg, according to testimony, felt the Blumls were keeping her away from her two sons, who were adopted by Roger and Melissa when the boys were young.
Bluml, the testimony goes, also was upset because he felt his younger brother, Christopher, was favored.
Schaberg eventually contacted her sons via the social media site Facebook and reunited with Anthony in California in fall of 2013, Schaberg’s girlfriend told The Eagle during an interview after their arrests. They returned to Wichita weeks before the Blumls were shot in the head while sitting in a vehicle outside their home at 5932 E. 109th St. North, near Woodlawn.
Melissa Bluml, 53, died while hospitalized on Nov. 16, 2013. Roger Bluml, 48, died about five weeks later.
Also charged in the case are 20-year-olds Andrew Ellington and Braden Smith. Both are scheduled for jury trials later this year, but Smith has negotiated a plea deal that would lessen the most severe of his charges to two counts of second-degree intentional murder in exchange for testifying against the others.
Prosecutors plan to ask that Smith serve 24 1/2 years in prison. Bennett said Tuesday that Smith met the first part of the deal by testifying against his co-defendants at their preliminary hearing last summer. If Ellington goes to trial, Smith must also testify there to fulfill the agreement, he said. He would plead guilty and be sentenced after that.
‘I’m truly sorry’
Schaberg is accused of pulling the trigger.
Dressed in a green jail jumpsuit but no shackles, Schaberg appeared in Sedgwick County District Judge Jeffrey Goering’s courtroom at 9 a.m. Tuesday to hear her fate. Given the chance to speak, she extended her “deepest apologies for everything that has happened” but denied involvement in the killings. Her attorney, Jeffrey Wicks, sat to her left as she addressed the court.
“First of all I want to say that I’m truly sorry for everything that the Bluml family has gone through. I also want to say that I had nothing to do with this,” Schaberg said.
“I had no anger toward the Blumls and had the utmost respect for them. They gave Tony and Christopher a wonderful life, and I will always be grateful for that.”
During his 11 a.m. hearing, Anthony Bluml refused an opportunity to speak. His attorney, Mark Manna, would not comment.
Schaberg wiped her eyes after the judge imposed her sentence. Bluml, who also wore green but was shackled and handcuffed, appeared impassive.
Roger Bluml’s sister-in-law, Christina Bluml, read a letter directed at her nephew and his biological mother during court. In it, she thanked law enforcement, prosecutors and the court for “bringing justice” for her family. She said they were focusing on the future.
“I could sit here and talk about what you did to us with your actions or the horrible things that the family has had to go through. I could sit here and talk about how we’ve wondered why you did the things that you did and how you could do those things even though Roger and Melissa took you into their home (Tony) and raised you. I could stand here and talk about you, about how you took away Roger and Melissa from all of us, way before we were ready to even think about letting them go and did you even realize that what you did affects not just you and them but everybody sitting in this courtroom.”
But, she said, the family is “moving forward, despite what you did. … Their lives were not in vain. You chose to murder them. You chose your path. No one did that for you. Some day you may come to understand your choices or you may not ever know. … Even though you pled no contest you are guilty for what you did to them. You are at fault. Take responsibility.”
Christina Bluml ended her speech with two religious verses. Both spoke of love.
“Our family and friends stand close together. We are here for each other. We appreciate each other and we hope to never forget how lucky we are to have one another, and we love each other,” she said. “Roger and Melissa tried to impart that on Tony whether he believes it or not.”