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February 15, 2013

Judge trims Schwander's sentence by 2 years

TRAVERSE CITY — A local judge grudgingly trimmed a convicted killer’s prison sentence by two years to comply with a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling.

A Grand Traverse County jury in October 2011 convicted Robert Jensen Schwander, now 19, of second-degree murder. Schwander killed Carly Lewis, then 16, in a hut on Beitner Street in Traverse City on June 2 of that year.

Circuit Judge Thomas G. Power sentenced him to a minimum of 40 years in prison, nearly double the highest minimum sentence called for under state sentencing guidelines. The Michigan Court of Appeals recently told Power he failed to explain why he exceeded the guidelines, and ordered him to either do so or re-sentence Schwander.

Power in a ruling released this week reduced Schwander’s minimum sentence to 38 years.

“The undersigned is hopeful that this substantial reduction in the defendant’s sentence will prove satisfactory to the Court of Appeals,” he wrote in the ruling.

Power in his ruling rejected the assertion that he needed to better explain his departure from the guidelines. He said he provided two “substantial and compelling” reasons for departing from the guidelines during Schwander’s initial sentencing.

First, authorities said Schwander stabbed Carly during a heated argument, and some testimony suggested she survived for a period of time after the stabbing. Power said Schwander’s failure to help her as she died was despicable.

“This is a particularly cruel and soulless scene evidencing depravity,” he wrote.

Power also pointed to the fact that Schwander, who was kicked out of his home, lived with Carly’s family for a time before the murder.“They provided a home and support for him, a man to whom they owed no duty, at a time when he was in desperate need,” he said. “Their reward was defendant’s unprovoked hatred of their daughter which culminated in her murder.”

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