VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A preliminary hearing for Christopher Schmidt took place in a Virginia Beach Juvenile Domestic Relations courtroom Thursday afternoon.
Christopher was arrested in June and charged with first-degree murder in the death of his ex-wife Lois Schmidt and her 7-year-old son, Jonathan Vetrano.
The two were found dead inside of their Virginia Beach home in June 2004. According to police, Lois' brother was also shot at the home but he survived. Two family dogs were also injured in the shooting; one of them died from their injuries.
For more than 14 years, investigators followed the case. They say recent information led them to arrest Christopher and Richard Stoner.
Christopher was extradited from his Florida home to Virginia Beach over the summer.
Stoner was also arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Stoner was extradited from his home in Indiana and is currently behind bars at the Virginia Beach City Jail.
News 3 was in the courtroom for Christopher's hearing Thursday. The only person to testify for the Commonwealth and the defense was Stoner.
Stoner was arrested this summer, shortly before Christopher was. Stoner told the court today that he met Christopher at a Christmas party. Stoner was married to one of Chris' cousins and they quickly became friends.
Stoner said Christopher asked him to kill Lois after the two had gotten divorced. Lois and Christopher had a daughter together, Stoner said they were in a bitter custody battle over their infant daughter.
Stoner said he thought Christopher was a good guy and wanted to help him, so he agreed to kill Lois.
In court, Stoner said Christopher gave him money to buy a gun and also gave him Lois' address. Stoner said he was told that only Lois would be at the house.
After cutting off the power, Stoner said he went into the house and came face-to-face with Lois and Jonathan. He said he was having second thoughts about going through with the shooting, but a family dog began making aggressive advancements toward him and he panicked. Stoner says he shot the dog, when Lois began screaming, Stoner says he shot her in the chest in front of Jonathon.
Lois' brother, who was also at the house, came out; Stoner said he shot him a few times before the brother ran toward the back of the house. Stoner followed him but decided not to kill him because he would "suffer more" by surviving."
After shooting Lois and her brother, Stoner said Jonathan was sitting on the couch, looking at his mother's body. He said he told the boy to run because he was going to burn the house down, but Jonathan didn't move. Stoner then told the court he decided to kill the boy because "he would be better off dead."
After setting the house on fire, Stoner says he drove back to Chris' house in South Florida.
The defense asked why Stoner decided to tell his story now. Stoner replied that he couldn't live with the guilt anymore and wanted to tell the truth. He claimed that Chris only paid him $1,000 for the shootings when he was originally promised $11,000.
When asked what he received from the Commonwealth for his testimony, Stoner said he was promised that death penalty would be taken off the table, but he declined the deal. He also said that wouldn't take a plea deal even if one was offered.
Stoner was on the stand for more than two hours - the entire time, Christopher showed hardly any emotion.
Christopher's charges were certified to the grand jury. His next court date is scheduled for the New Year.