Editor’s note: Although it is not illegal to do so, in general, it is the policy of Sauk Valley Media not to report the names of juvenile defendants. In this case, however, SVM is publishing their names because of the severity of the crimes.
STERLING – A mental health evaluation, the key step in determining whether a 15-year-old should be tried as an adult in the July 6 shooting death of her mother, should be finished and ready for review in early March.
Anna Schroeder was 3 days past her 15th birthday when, investigators say, she shot her mother, Peggy Schroeder, 53, in the head in their Morrison home.
Schroeder is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, concealment of homicidal death, and arson. If she is convicted of murder as a minor, she could be imprisoned until she is 21; as an adult, the penalty could be much harsher – 6 to 30 years, or more.
At a status hearing Tuesday in Whiteside County juvenile court, her private attorney, James Mertes of Sterling, told Judge Trish Joyce that Schroeder’s school and other records have been turned over to Dr. Stevan Weine, the Chicago psychiatrist hired by the defense to do the evaluation.
Weine will spend several hours interviewing Schroeder on Saturday morning at the Mary Davis Detention Home in Galesburg, where she and her accused accomplice are being held.
He also has asked to review a few of her other medical records, which Mertes is working with her father, Daryl Schroeder, to produce. Barring any problems getting Weine the information he is requesting, the report should be done by March 5, Mertes said.
Joyce set a status hearing for March 13; at that time, if the report is complete, a hearing on the state’s motion to move the case to adult court likely will be scheduled.
That decision will be Joyce’s, based on factors such as Schroeder’s mental capacity, background and level of responsibility for the crime.
Also Tuesday, the state was granted a request to do a consumptive DNA test in the ongoing investigation. That request also was granted at a hearing Dec. 19 for co-defendant Rachel Helm, 15, of Rock Falls.
A consumptive DNA test is one in which all of the material containing the DNA likely will be used in the testing process, leaving nothing for an independent analysis, should the other side want one.
No further details, including what is to be tested, were provided, and in juvenile proceedings, all that is public is what is discussed in open court. Documents such as motions are not released.
Investigators say Schroeder shot her mother in the head at their home at 805 W. Park St., notified Helm, her girlfriend, then the girls spent a day trying to clean up the blood before Helm set the bedding covering Peggy’s body on fire July 8, in an effort to burn the home and conceal the crime.
Helm told her mother about the crime that night; her mother contacted authorities and Schroeder was arrested and confessed as well, investigators have said.
Helm also is charged with arson and concealment of homicidal death, which carries 3 to 7 and 2 to 5 years in a juvenile detention facility, respectively.
State’s Attorney Terry Costello also is seeking to have her case removed to adult court, but a hearing on the motion to transfer was canceled in November, when her attorney, Michael Lancaster of Sterling, said both sides were “working on a resolution,” which implies a deal may be in the works.
Helm’s next hearing is Jan. 30.