Prosecutors seek death penalty in Texas kidnapping

AP News

10/18/2012 6:02:50 PM - AP News

HOUSTON (AP) — Texas prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a Houston woman accused of killing a mother and abducting her newborn son earlier this year outside a clinic, authorities said Thursday.

Investigators believe Verna McClain, 31, was desperate for a baby to pass off as her own after suffering a miscarriage. She is facing a charge of capital murder for allegedly shooting Kala Golden-Schuchardt outside a pediatric clinic in suburban Houston and taking her days-old son. The baby was found safe with a relative of McClain.

E. Tay Bond, one of McClain's attorneys, said he was disappointed by the decision from prosecutors and that the death penalty should not be considered in this case because his client has no prior criminal history and would not pose a future danger. He said psychological experts are still reviewing her mental state.

The Montgomery County District Attorney's Office announced its decision to seek the death penalty during a court hearing Thursday. Kelly Blackburn, the lead prosecutor in the case, said his office would not be commenting on what led to the decision, but said prosecutors spoke with Golden-Schuchardt's family about seeking the death penalty.

"They are on board in regards to the decision," he said.

Bond said "if there is a typical capital murder case, it certainly is not this one."

"She's a mother. She has no criminal record. She is a nurse," he said. "There is no evidence that she would pose a future danger to society especially in a state that offers life without parole as an alternative to the death penalty."

Bond said McClain, due to her mental state, was not able to assist in her defense at Thursday's hearing and he expects that to continue.

No trial date has been set. She remains jailed without bond. Her attorney said he believes McClain could go to trial in April or May.

The shooting happened outside the Northwoods Pediatric Center in Spring, about 25 miles north of Houston, where McClain had taken her three children for checkups. Investigators believe Golden-Schuchardt was randomly targeted.

Authorities said the 28-year-old mother was placing her son, Keegan Schuchardt, into her pickup truck when McClain, a vocational nurse, repeatedly shot her, snatched the child and sped off. Golden-Schuchardt died at a hospital. But she was first able to give a description of who had shot her and taken her son.

McClain initially told investigators she had found the baby after it had been left on her doorstep. But authorities say she later confessed.

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