Byline: Scott Baughman
A years-long effort to prosecute a Henderson County man accused of trying to beat his wife to death may have reached its end. The North Carolina Court of Appeals instructed the trial court to dismiss all of the remaining charges, finding that they amounted to a vindictive prosecution and that prosecutors should have brought them alongside the original charges.
Leonard Schalow is accused of repeatedly beating his wife over a period of several months. Prosecutors contend that the injuries were so severe that the woman was near death when she came to police, and that the beatings took place in their son's presence. Schalow was initially charged with five counts of assault in 2014, but, prosecutors later chose to dismiss those charges and proceed with a single charge of attempted first-degree murder.
That proved to be a fateful choice. After the jury was empaneledthe point where defendants are deemed to be in jeopardy for the purposes of constitutional protections against double jeopardythe trial judge noticed that the language in the indictment was missing an essential element of the offense. Over Schalow's objection, the judge declared a mistrial.
Schalow was arrested again, and this time charged with attempted first-degree murder by torture. After he was convicted and sentenced to at least 13 years in prison, Schalow appealed, arguing that the second trial violated his rights against double jeopardy. In December 2016, the Court of Appeals agreed and vacated his conviction.
After the court's ruling, District Attorney Greg Newman was quoted in the press saying that if the ruling stood, "then I have a plan in place to address that circumstance and will take additional action to see that [Schalow] is held accountable I will do everything that I can to see that he remains in custody for as long as possible." After the Supreme Court declined to review the ruling, Newman was quoted on Facebook saying that he would prosecute Schalow again and aim to secure a comparable sentence.
Newman soon followed through, bringing 20 new charges against Schalowall stemming from the alleged violence against his wifethat together could generate a prison sentence of more than 50 years. They included 14 charges of child abuse for which the state had obtained indictments more than a year earlier. Schalow sought and was granted an immediate appeal of the denial of his motion to dismiss the charges, alleging double jeopardy, vindictive...