“Doretta, prison is going to be the first step in the eternal punishment that you will receive for murdering my brother, Randy Scheffield." – Melody Scheffield
Doretta Scheffield learned last week she likely will spend the rest of her life in prison for murdering her husband Dec. 27, 2011.
Characterizing the aggravated murder of Randy Scheffield as “particularly sinister,” Geauga County Common Pleas Court Judge David Fuhry sentenced Doretta to 25 years to life for killing her then 53-year-old husband as he slept in his bed inside the couple’s Newbury Township home.
Fuhry tacked on an additional 30 months for tampering with evidence; namely the murder weapon, which was never found.
Doretta, who is 64, will be 91 when she is eligible for parole. She was credited with 224 days in jail already served.
Following a nine-day trial in September, a Geauga County jury found her guilty of aggravated murder, murder and tampering with evidence.
At the Nov. 4 sentencing, Fuhry dismissed a suggestion from Doretta’s lawyer, Richard Drucker, that “anything but the minimum sentence would just plain be wrong” because the jury verdict left some “residual doubt” about his client’s guilt.
“The jury was unanimous in its decision and the court … without reservation accepts it,” Fuhry said. “Obviously, given the stance of the defendant that there’s no guilt acknowledged in this case, there’s no showing of remorse, so the court recognizes that there’s no remorse shown when it comes to sentencing.”
Fuhry also noted there was no evidence Randy, whom he described as a “faithful and supportive spouse,” ever physically abused Doretta during their more than 20 years of co-habitation, including the last 11 in wedlock.
Fuhry also found Doretta’s tampering with evidence conviction “particularly significant” because it involved the most important piece of evidence: the .22-caliber pistol used to shoot Randy in the back of his head.
“Disposing of it was not disposing of some trivial or incidental evidence of the crime, it was the main piece of evidence, the disposal of which, the tampering with which, created immeasurable burdens upon law enforcement,” the judge said.
Drucker, who spoke on Doretta’s behalf, told Fuhry his client continues to profess her innocence, as she has since her indictment on March 25.
“It’s our position that the jury lost its way and convicted my client of crimes that she didn’t commit,” Drucker said, arguing the prosecution’s case was based entirely on circumstantial evidence. “This is a terrible tragedy. It’s our position that, as the spouse of the decedent, that she herself is a victim. Her heart reaches out to the Scheffield family.”
Drucker added Doretta loved Randy’s parents like her own.
“She understands there are feelings toward her as a result of what happened to their son and as a result of this conviction. She feels very, very bad about that,” Drucker said.
Doretta is a mother of three and grandmother to six.
Geauga County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Driscoll agreed Randy’s murder was a tragedy.
“But it’s a tragedy that Doretta Scheffield caused,” she told the court. “This is a tragedy that she has put this family and friends through.”
Driscoll also dismissed any suggestion Doretta’s heart reached out to the Scheffield family.
“She did not reach out to the Scheffield family after she murdered their son. She did not reach out to them at all, in the past almost four years after she murdered their son,” Driscoll said. “She’s going to stand here and through her attorney say that they were like family? What sort of family does not call and say your son has been murdered? I will tell you the type of family that does that is the person who murdered that man.”
Driscoll further said Doretta carried out a “plan” that involved murdering Randy, hiding the gun and taking over his business.
“Fortunately, the jury saw through that plan. Fortunately, the detectives saw through that plan,” she told Fuhry.
In addition, contrary to a statement Drucker made, Driscoll noted Doretta does have a prior conviction.
“She has a previous conviction for defrauding the bureau of workers’ comp, through Randy Scheffield’s company,” the assistant prosecutor said. “She used this company, used this man, and then when she was done, she found him to be disposable, killed him and tried to continue on her life.”
Randy’s sister, Melody Scheffield, confronted Doretta at sentencing and spoke on behalf of the family.
“Doretta, prison is going to be the first step in the eternal punishment that you will receive for murdering my brother, Randy Scheffield,” Melody said, adding her brother was a kind and gentle person.
“Randy took you in when you were homeless, homeless with two small children and a pregnant teenager,” Melody said. “He gave you a life that you would’ve never had otherwise.”
She said Randy and his family were the only people that ever treated Doretta with dignity and kindness.
“And you, you systematically set out, over time … to destroy him. Not just him physically, by shooting him in the back of the head with a gun, but to destroy his business, everything that was important to him,” Melody said. “But in the aftermath of this terrible crime, all of Randy’s friends, his family, his neighbors, his customers, the law enforcement people, everybody knew that Randy was killed by you. Everybody unraveled your story. From day one, nobody believed what you said, nobody. Only you and your family could have committed this crime, of greed and careless disregard for life.”
She added, “Our only hope is that all of the people that are responsible for this senseless crime are brought to justice and that no one else in Geauga County is going to be hurt. Only then can all the survivors start to heal from this terrible crime.”
Doretta’s son and his live-in girlfriend — and mother of his child — also have been charged in connection with Randy’s murder.
David Rowles is scheduled to be tried in Judge Forrest Burt’s courtroom on Feb. 1 while Gina Battaglia’s trial is scheduled for Jan. 12 in Fuhry’s courtroom.