TRAVERSE CITY (WWJ/AP) – The son of a Grand Traverse County sheriff’s deputy was convicted Wednesday of killing a 16-year-old girl of a family he had lived with after getting kicked out of his own home.
A circuit court jury found 18-year-old Robert Jensen Schwander guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Carly Lewis, who disappeared June 2. Her body was found June 14 in a sand pile at the city’s public works complex, near a hut that Schwander was using as a temporary dwelling.
The defense contended wounds on Lewis’ body were caused by a metal probe as investigators looked for her body in the sand pile. But a Grand Rapids-based pathologist who performed an autopsy on Lewis disputed that, saying she received the injuries from “a knife or something like a knife” while she was still alive. A DNA test showed blood found on a pair of scissors at Schwander’s temporary dwelling likely belonged to Lewis.
Prosecutors contended Schwander plotted Carly’s death and fatally stabbed her. Testifying Wednesday in his own defense, Schwander told jurors Carly died after he put her in a choke hold to calm her down during an argument.
“I never wanted to kill Carly Lewis,” he said, according to the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Lewis was reported missing after leaving a friend’s home, leading to searches in Traverse City and nearby communities in Michigan’s northwestern Lower Peninsula. Police said Schwander, whose father is sheriff’s deputy Scott Schwander, eventually led them to Carly’s body.
Carly’s mother, Susie Lewis, told the Traverse City Record-Eagle previously that her family welcomed Robert Schwander into her home earlier this year for a couple of months after he left his own. Schwander had been classmates with her son, Mitchell Lewis.
Sentencing was scheduled for Nov. 18.
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