ST. LOUIS – A murder case, overturned on a technicality, continues to bring unexpected developments that could affect your public safety.
It involves a man who was serving a life sentence for murder but suddenly got a plea deal because of a technicality at his trial. Former convict Darin Schmidt, 38, was just considered by a parole board for immediate release.
“It shocked us. We weren’t ready for it at all,” said David Bewig Sr., father of the victim.
David and Mary Bewig were numb after receiving a call that their son’s killer was being considered for release.
“I was surprised that quick that he was up for parole,” Mary Bewig said.
Their son, David Bewig Jr., a music promoter, was shot and killed while sitting in his car in St. Louis in 2016.
Schmidt admitted killing Bewig Jr. this past July as part of an unusual plea deal.
“He sat there, six or seven feet away from me, and said he shot my son in the head two times, and he got this plea bargain,” David Sr. said.
Schmidt had been serving a life sentence after a St. Louis jury found him guilty of murder in 2019. That was under Kim Gardner’s administration, which won the verdict partly based on the testimony of three witnesses, who said Schmidt told them he did it. The case was later overturned because of a prosecutor’s follow-up question to those witnesses. Appeals court judges ruled the question inappropriate when throwing out the case.
That question: Did you believe Schmidt when he confessed?
“The judge should have objected to that,” Mary said. “The defense attorney should have objected to that.”
The court transcript indicates no one objected, and the Bewigs didn’t learn about a potential problem until the case was thrown out on appeal.
Later, St. Louis prosecutors under Gabe Gore’s administration felt forced to offer Schmidt a deal this past July, claiming those three witnesses were no longer willing to testify.
Schmidt then pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action. His new plea came with a 13-year prison sentence, with five years already served.
Just a few weeks after that plea deal, the Bewigs got a call about a parole hearing, which was set for Oct. 25.
“There was a chance they could have let him go,” David Sr. said. “(Schmidt) told the parole board that he didn’t do it—that he didn’t kill my son.”
“What do you mean, you didn’t do it? That’s what got you here!” Mary said.
“It blew my mind,” David Sr. said. “It blew the parole board man’s mind. He’s never had that happen in his life. He said, ‘Sir, you’re here because you admitted doing this crime!’”
The astonishing denial did not do Schmidt any favors, though it was devastating for the Bewigs to hear. They say the parole board denied Schmidt and set his current expected release date for Oct. 25, 2028.
“Better than no time,” Mary said.
“2028 is not far away. Not far away at all,” David Sr. said. “I wish in ‘28 my son could come back.”