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Richard Stoner Case: Defense calls for evidence to be tossed in Virginia Beach murder-for-hire case

At the center of Wednesday's hearing: a taped confession Richard Stoner gave police after his arrest just a few years ago.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A man accused of killing a mother and her son in a murder-for-hire plot in Virginia Beach nearly two decades ago was in court on Wednesday.

At the center of the hearing: a taped confession Richard Stoner gave police after his arrest just a few years ago. Prosecutors hope to use it at trial, which is currently set for June.

Stoner’s lawyer is trying to keep that from happening.

Stoner, an Army veteran, is accused of shooting and killing Lois Schmidt and her 7-year-old son Jonathan Vetrano in 2004. Police arrested Stoner in 2018. He went on to testify that Schmidt’s husband hired him to carry out the murders.

At the time of his arrest, Stoner lived in Indiana. Virginia Beach police detectives flew there to talk to him.

Prosecutors said the detectives had a proffer letter from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. That letter essentially gave Stoner the ability to give police a preview of information he could bring to the table if prosecutors were willing to cut a deal.

During the interaction in Indiana, police got a taped interview and confession, which was admitted as evidence. Stoner’s lawyer wants the evidence thrown out.

He argued to the judge that it’s unclear if investigators violated Stoner’s right to counsel and that Stoner said he wanted his lawyer multiple times.

Prosecutors argue that Stoner called police to meet and discuss the plea agreement. They said he could have brought his lawyer with him if he liked.

On Wednesday, Judge Steve Frucci said he will rule on this next week, to give both sides more time to review the interview transcripts.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office wouldn’t comment, but Stoner’s lawyer said he’s happy to have another week to prepare.

Making the case even more interesting, Stoner recently was allowed to retract his guilty plea. That’s because he entered the plea and made a plea agreement when Virginia still had the death penalty.

The state got rid of the death penalty last year, which changed the basis of the plea deal.