On Tuesday morning Judge Gary White sentenced Andrew Schmidt in the April 2016 fatal hit and run incident that resulted in the death Greenwich resident Edward Setterberg.
Andrew Schmidt, now 20, was sullen as he arrived in court room 4B accompanied by his father.
Wearing a white button down shirt, maroon tie, black trousers and a black North Face jacket, Andrew’s hair was close cropped.
Before the long awaited sentencing, defendant’s attorney Eugene Riccio and state prosecutor Richard Colangelo approached Judge White, and during a brief conversation could be seen shaking his head no.
After everyone took their seats, Mr. Colangelo asked the judge for five minutes to confer with his client but was declined. “No,” he said. “We’re all set. We’ve discussed it continuously.”
Mr. Colangelo said there were additional outstanding matters for Andrew Schmidt in addition to Manslaughter and Evading Responsibility, including a charge of Criminal Trover following an incident in Port Chester in which Andrew Schmidt took a Dodge Challenger Hellcat resulting in damage. The victim’s attorney estimated damage at $10,000. He asked the judge to include restitution to reflect that damage in his sentencing.
Further, Colangelo said there was also a Criminal Mischief charge for an incident in which Andrew drove doughnuts in the snow on town property causing damage.
Mr. Riccio asked the judge for a continuance and was declined.
Judge White noted the charges of Manslaughter and Evading Responsibility go all the way back to 2016. “The case has been down 35 times,” he said.
Judge White asked Andrew if he had had any drugs or alcohol that could keep him from understanding the maximum penalties for his offenses, whether he understood the evidence against him and whether he understood that by pleading guilty he waived his right to a jury trial.
The judge said he was satisfied Andrew’s plea was made intelligently. “I’ve reviewed it and we’re ready to go forward,” he said.
“You are very familiar with the incident,” Mr. Colangelo told the judge before going on to summarize the events that began on April 17. He said mentioned that there were witnesses behind Andrew’s car and that he had been operating at a high rate of speed, and sped up when the light on East Putnam Ave at the intersection of Hillside turned yellow.
He said a police officer coming off his shift had stopped and found Mr. Setterberg, and that later Greenwich Police found the Mercedes Andrew had been driving with its license plates removed and black plastic garbage bags duct-taped over the damage.
“He has no remorse for anything he has done,” Colangelo said. “I ask for seven years, at least two served, and five years probation,” he said.
Before the judged issued his decision, Mr. Colangelo was allowed to call Dr. Jerome Brodlie PhD to make a statement. Dr. Brodlie is a psychologist who worked with Andrew during his parents’ divorce, and resumed again just months before the hit and run.
Dr. Brodlie, head of psychology for Greenwich Hospital with 44 years in practice, said he started treating Andrew when his parents were in the midst of a contentious divorce and described the teen as having a lot of anger.
“He and his brother and sister were exposed to a lot of battling in court for three years of turmoil,” he said. “He witnessed the parental battle, making him feel very small because the three kids were kind of background. The father kept a hand around him, but it was a tumultuous home environment.”
“Were you aware the mother tried to make the kids give false testimony and did it effect them?” Riccio asked Dr. Brodlie.
“Yes,” the doctor replied, adding that Andrew was about 12 when the divorce happened. “I counseled him until the divorce was done, then again in 2016. I worked with him on decisions about where to go to school. He was having some troubles deciding what school to go to.”
The doctor said there was a three or four year gap between the finalization of the divorce when Andrew was settling in living his father and siblings, and when he resumed the counseling in Feb 2016.
Andrew’s father Jim Schmidt was also allowed to address the court. Becoming emotional at one point, he said his divorce from his wife had been contentious and that Andrew, as the eldest of his three children, had been the focus of his ex wife’s particular “scheme.”
Mr. Schmidt describes his ex wife’s effort during the divorce as “a parental alienation scheme” and that Andrew was pushed to “create false accusations against me, in person and physically sometimes, and criticized me with language.”
He said Andrew, as the oldest child, was used to bring along his brother and sister into the scheme.
Mr. Schmidt said Andrew’s mother had made accusations to the Department of Children and Families, but that he was exonerated of the charges.
Andrew’s father said Andrew’s personality changed during the ordeal. “We used to go everywhere together,” he recalled. “He was very good at mechanical things. We did projects together. Slowly but surely, he became contentious and angry. By the time the divorce ended and he was put back in my custody, the healing process was very slow. It had started at a very impressionable age.”
Mr. Schmidt gained custody of all three children when Andrew was 14-1/2 and his twin siblings were 12-1/2 years old.
Andrew, who was 17 when he hit and killed Mr. Setterberg, who was 43, had an opportunity to read a statement to the court where several members of the media were present.
All proceedings have been public because Mr. Colangelo was able to try Andrew as an adult as opposed to juvenile court which is conducted in private.
Attorney Riccio said Andrew had wanted to address the victims but with the civil and criminal actions pending, he wasn’t able to.
“He’s going to go someplace in life when this is over,” Riccio said, adding that he will be there waiting.
Then Andrew addressed the court.
Pulling a folded piece of paper from his pocket he read from the paper in a monotone voice. “I apologize for my actions that led to this tragedy,” he said, adding. “I plan to make something of myself and hope to make a positive impact to society.”
From there a short statement from Mr. Setterberg’s widow was read, in which she said, “No amount of punishment will bring my husband back.
A statement from Mr. Setterberg’s eldest child was also read. “Now he’s gone,” it said. “How would you feel if you lost a person who has been with you your whole life? …My heart shattered to pieces when my mom told me the news. …. I feel like someone shot a bullet through me. …Everyone with a dad is so lucky. …What was going through your mind?” the child asked in the statement.
“It’s been painful not to have my father by my side. You have ruined things for me. Think before you act,” the child wrote.
Lastly, pointing out that Andrew Schmidt didn’t stop after hitting his father on East Putnam Avenue, Mr. Setterberg’s child wrote, “You didn’t even do the right thing.”
Before Judge White shared his decision Mr. Colangelo asked him to go as close to the cap as he could. “This was a horrendous incident,” he said.
“I’ve reviewed the case and all the letters. It was a tragic situation and the communities impacted and understand he had a traumatic upbringing that surely effected him, but it’s no excuse,” the judge said.
White sentenced Andrew to two sentences of 7 years, suspended after 2 years, plus 5 years probation, to be served concurrently for Manslaughter and Evading Responsibility.
Judge White described Andrew’s behavior as “reckless and callous” and said he “took a life, drove away, and tried to cover up what he did.”
He said he had taken into consideration The Miller Factors, which are guidelines for sentencing juveniles. “He’d get a lot more than what I’m going to impose,” he said, alluding to the Miller Factors.
As the judge announced the two year prison sentence, which might have been as much as three, marshals handcuffed Andrew. Moments later, his head was down as marshals led him away through a side door.