MORRISON – The girl who tricked her mother into covering her face with a towel before she shot her point blank in the head, citing fear that her mom would make her end her lesbian relationship with another teen, pleaded guilty today to second-degree murder.
Anna Schroeder, now 17, faces 4 to 20 years in prison at her May 1 sentencing.
Two counts of first-degree murder, one count of arson and one of concealing a homicidal death were dismissed as part of a limited plea agreement. She also agreed to waive her right to appeals, including the transfer of her case from juvenile to adult court, and to give up the possibility of getting probation rather than prison time.
Schroeder, who has been incarcerated in the Mary Davis Home inn Galena since July 8, 2017, will be given credit for time served, and will be allowed day-for-day credit, plus any credits she might earn for participating in DOC programs or employment. Should she be sentenced to the full 20 years, she will be released by the time she is 24 or 25.
The plea came in the wake of two recent rulings by Judge Trish Senneff that severely weakened prosecution's case: that Schroeder's confession to investigators was improperly obtained and could not be admitted at trial, and that she would be allowed to argue that her judgment was so severely impaired by her forced use of the antidepressant Zoloft that should could neither appreciate the consequences of her actions, nor stop herself from committing the crime.
At the heart of the matter, though is the fact that she was only 3 days past her 15th birthday when the crime was committed, said James Mertes, Schroeder's attorney.
"This case challenged us, as a society, to reflect upon how we treat children who are accused of crimes," Mertes said. "The fact the crime is serious does not somehow make a child less of a child."
Schroeder shot her mother, Peggy Schroeder, 53, in the head on July 6, 2017, in their Morrison home.
She and her then-girlfriend, Rachel Helm of Rock Falls, spent 2 days trying to clean the scene before setting the house on fire to conceal the crime, all while making plans to run away – plans that fell apart when Helm told her mother what had transpired, and the two of them went to authorities.
Helm believed Peggy Schroeder disapproved of the girls' romantic relationship and planned to end it, and repeatedly urged Schroeder via text to kill her mother so they could be together, investigators have said.