After 17 years in prison for murdering her boyfriend, a local woman will be in court Monday, apparently to plead guilty to another charge, which could result in her freedom.
According to court documents, Anastazia Schmid was originally convicted in 2002 for stabbing her boyfriend, Tony Heathcote, 39 times during sexual intercourse at his Lafayette residence. Schmid, then 29, was convicted of “murder and related counts.”
Court documents indicate Schmid will plead guilty but mentally ill to a lesser charge Monday. Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington recently filed documents that include a plea deal to voluntary manslaughter that would have her released on two years of parole and mental health treatment.
She was brought back to the Tippecanoe County Jail on Wednesday night.
The incident happened on March 4, 2001. Schmid and Heathcote were engaging in sexual relations involving restraints, a dog collar, a leash and a blindfold when Heathcote suggested the two role-play characters, according to documents.
“Heathcote suggested that Schmid play the part of the little girl,” a court document reads. “Heathcote would play the part of the daddy.”
The document states that Heathcote’s suggestion caused Schmid to think of her daughter, who had allegedly been recently molested by Heathcote. Schmid had learned of this alleged molestation two days prior. Schmid then grabbed a knife and stabbed him 39 times. At the time, Heathcote was blindfolded and restrained at the ankles.
“Schmid indicated that at the time of the stabbing she had heard a voice telling her that she was the messiah and that Heathcote was evil and needed to be eliminated,” the documents said.
Before and during her trial, Schmid was transported to and from Tippecanoe County Jail to local hospitals multiple times for psychiatric evaluations. According to court documents, Schmid was treated with Neurotin, Topamax, Depakote, Klonopin, Thorazine, Effexor, Zyprexa and Risperdal daily while in jail.
On June 5, 2001, she was found incompetent to stand trial. About six months later, one of Schmid's public defenders filed another motion to determine competency as Schmid was "experiencing hallucinations and 'going backwards again.'" Two court-appointed doctors found her competent, but the court made no official ruling.
On Oct. 2, 2002, a private attorney hired by Schmid's family described some "real concerns" over her state.
"Yesterday she was having some problems and the voices were starting," attorney Daniel Hennessy said, according to court documents. "And it's typical of the schizophrenic aspect of the mental disease that they start as whispers and to a crescendo and that's where they were."
On Oct. 5, 2002, Schmid was convicted with “verdicts of guilty but mentally ill.”
According to a letter written by professors vouching for Schmid published in a local newspaper, she had no recollection of her trial.
In 2014, having exhausted all Indiana court appeals, Schmid filed a lawsuit for a fair trial in federal court, alleging that her assigned public defenders were ineffective and that in 2002 she had been incompetent to stand trial. In May 2019, a federal judge issued an order to throw out her previous convictions.
During her time behind bars, Schmid earned associate and bachelor’s degrees from Ball State University and began graduate work through Indiana University and the University of California Riverside. The Department of Correction filed a report in her Tippecanoe County file that includes many certificates from classes and programs she completed while in prison.
According to a federal motion for release, Schmid has become a “playwright, an artist and a scholar.” Schmid won the American Studies Association’s 2016 Gloria Anzaldua Award for her paper “Crafting the Perfect Woman: How Gynecology, Obstetrics and American Prisons Operate to Construct and Control Women," completed training for a cosmetology license and, according to a federal judge, has "long since exhausted the educational opportunities within the Department of Corrections."
After the recent federal court decision, Harrington could retry Schmid on the original charges or dismiss the case. Federal court documents state that Harrington has 120 days following the May 15 decision to decide.
Harrington did not respond to requests for comment this week.
"Any death is a tragedy, but so is violence against domestic partners that too often precedes such deaths, as was the case for Anastazia," current and former faculty members of Ball State University, DePauw University and Indiana University wrote in May. "We hope the legal community of Tippecanoe County will decide that the 18 years Anastazia has served is time enough and that the citizens of this state will be allowed to welcome home the remarkable woman that we have all come to know, admire and love."