Jury ponders Schubert’s fate

By Scott North

Herald Writer

David Schubert’s wife has been missing for a dozen years.

A Snohomish County jury on Thursday began trying to decide whether that fact, and others, suggests the 62-year-old Arlington man simply had a failed marriage or is somebody who almost got away with murder.

Jurors spent nearly five hours deliberating without reaching a verdict. They were scheduled to resume this morning.

"The defendant thought he could get away with murder. Except for you, he does," deputy prosecutor Ed Stemler said in closing arguments.

But there is no hard evidence to determine what happened to Juliana Schubert, 30, let alone find her husband guilty of murder, countered public defender Richard Tassano.

The prosecution is trying to make its case on emotion, the defense attorney said. "That’s what this case is about. It’s emotion versus rational thought."

Schubert went on trial Nov. 20, charged with first-degree murder in the June 1989 disappearance of his wife.

Prosecutors have been trying to build an entirely circumstantial case that the defendant killed his wife and hid her body. No trace of the missing woman has ever been found.

Schubert has pleaded innocent and insists she simply walked away from their home, leaving behind her car, her purse and two sons, who were then ages 6 and 8.

Along with deputy prosecutor Paul Stern, Stemler argued that Schubert, a former Arlington police officer and insurance agent, had the intelligence and experience to plan a crime that would be almost impossible to prove.

When Juliana Schubert disappeared, the couple’s nine-year marriage was headed toward divorce. The defendant was angry with his younger wife and upset enough to talk to others about killing her to "get some peace" in his life, Stemler said.

With his wife out the picture, Schubert would avoid the cost and trouble of a divorce, could guarantee he would retain custody of his sons and also could cash in on a $250,000 life insurance policy on his wife, the prosecutors argued.

Evidence suggests Schubert took steps, including hiring a babysitter and asking one of his wife’s friends not to call, so there would be no witnesses when he killed his wife and hid her body, Stern alleged.

Schubert explained the sudden disappearance by telling people his wife was on vacation, a ruse that wasn’t seriously challenged for weeks. By the time investigators searched his home, 43 days had passed, which was plenty of time "to clean, time to dispose and to make sure everything is in order," Stern added.

It didn’t matter that no evidence was found to suggest Schubert had killed anyone, Tassano said. Investigators twisted that, in their minds, to become proof of guilt.

"That’s what this is about," he said. "It is beautiful. You can’t get out of this."

The reality of the case is that Schubert, then nearly 50, was embarrassed and hurt that his younger wife was leaving him, Tassano said. He wasn’t hiding evidence of a crime when he told falsehoods, he just didn’t want his community to learn that he’d been jilted.

Tassano reminded jurors that prosecutors must show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Schubert has committed a crime. That’s impossible in a case that is based solely on inference, rumor and innuendo, he argued.

"You have to know for a fact that she is dead. You have to know for a fact that she died at the hands of another. You have to know, for a fact, that David Schubert killed her" to find the defendant guilty, he said.

Prosecutors countered by reminding jurors that the law also requires them to keep in mind that evidence can be direct or circumstantial, and one is not necessarily better than the other.

"You don’t get away with murder just because you have no evidence of a body," Stemler said. "The law allows no free passes."

If jurors don’t believe Schubert committed premeditated first-degree murder, they have been instructed to consider where the facts support the lesser charge of second-degree murder.

You can call Herald Writer Scott North at 425-339-3431 or send e-mail to north@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)
‘I’m stuck in the trees’: 911 call recounts plane crash near Paine Field

Asad Ali was coming in for a landing in a Cessna 150 when he crashed into woods south of Mukilteo. Then he called 911 — for 48 minutes.

Everett
Snohomish County likely to feel more like winter, beginning Monday

Get ready for a mix of rain and snow this week, along with cooler temperatures.

Anthony Boggess
Arlington man sentenced for killing roommate who offered shelter

Anthony Boggess, 33, reported hearing the voices of “demons” the night he strangled James Thrower, 65.

Ryan Rafter appears in court for sentencing Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Man sentenced to life in prison for murder of Everett father

In April 2022, Ryan Rafter, 42, shot Christopher Buck, 29, to death after breaking in to his home to steal drugs.

Marysville
Driver strikes, kills Marysville man who was crossing I-5 in Seattle

The man’s car had broken down near Mercer Street. Troopers reported that he was struck when he tried to cross the freeway.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Police: Darrington woman stabbed, buried 5-year-old daughter

The woman reportedly told investigators she was hearing voices before she killed her young daughter on Valentine’s Day.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

A person walks out of the Snohomish County Corrections building on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County Jail review finds no fault in Florida inmate’s death

David Koeppen, 38, was the third inmate in two months to die in the jail. He was being held on murder charges.

Everett
Snohomish County pharmacy tech accused of stealing 2,500 opioid pills

Rachel Langdon stole oxycodone while working at a Snohomish County pharmacy, according to state Department of Health allegations.

Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, left, a member of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, speaks Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, right, looks on at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. After the speech, Inslee signed a bill sponsored by McCoy that seeks to improve oral health on Indian reservations in Washington state. The measure is the first bill the governor has signed this legislative session and it allows tribes to use federal funding for dental therapists. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Curriculum on state tribes to be renamed after late Tulalip legislator

On Tuesday, John McCoy’s former colleagues in the Senate honored the late lawmaker by passing House Bill 1879.

Lynnwood
Man stabbed, killed inside Lynnwood-area condo

Detectives were looking to identify suspects in a killing Monday night at the Brio Condominiums.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.