Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Friday

January 24, 2014

Judge reinstates Schwander's sentence

TRAVERSE CITY — A judge reinstated the original sentence for a man who killed Traverse City teen Carly Lewis.

Robert Jensen Schwander, 20, will serve a 40- to 70-year sentence for Lewis' slaying, 13th Circuit Court Judge Philip Rodgers ruled during a resentencing hearing on Friday.

Rodgers' decision comes after a series of Michigan Court of Appeals rulings that eventually vacated his colleague Thomas Power's original sentence -- also 40- to 70-years. The appellate judges found Power didn't adequately explain his reasons for handing down a sentence twice as lengthy as what's called for in state sentencing guidelines; they also required a different judge handle the resentencing.

Lewis' mother Susan exchanged tearful hugs with family members after the hearing.

"Justice was served," she said.

The hearing was steeped in emotion and unfolded in a courtroom filled to capacity. Lewis' and Schwander's families occupied opposite sides of the room. Schwander stood and directly addressed Carly's parents, Todd and Susan Lewis, his family and Rodgers, and apologized for the pain and suffering that what he called his "only mistake in life" caused.

"There's nothing I can say to you that will make this right," Schwander said to Susan Lewis. "There's nothing I can say or do. What happened was truly an accident, from the bottom of my heart. And I wish you believed me."

But Todd Lewis offered no forgiveness for the man he called a "loveless and soulless creature." He said Schwander betrayed his family's trust and deserved community banishment rather than leniency.

"Perhaps in time he will understand what he has done and one day God will forgive him, but it's not in my heart," Lewis said.

Schwander briefly lived in the Lewis family home before Carly's slaying. He admits he killed Carly on June 2, 2011 following a confrontation in a Beitner Road shack that served as his makeshift home, but maintains he accidentally choked her.

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