Robert Schminky’s two neighbors and his wife spoke at his sentencing hearing Tuesday to tell the judge how out of character it was for him to viciously beat his spouse with a shotgun and engage in a rolling shootout with police, as dash-cam video showed him doing in the early morning hours of Jan. 21, 2015.
But Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Luis Garcia said Schminky’s actions that day, which left a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputy wounded, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper with hearing damage, and both officers with post-traumatic stress, outweigh the kindness and generosity friends and family say he demonstrated up until that moment.
“You were running from the police and you were willing to kill to get away,” Garcia told Schminky, 60, right before sentencing him to two life terms in prison for attempted murder of a police officer and another 10 years for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. Garcia also sentenced Schminky to 10 years for aggravated battery and another 10 years for fleeing and eluding police. Each of those sentences is to run concurrently with the life punishments. A jury convicted Schminky in January after less than two hours of deliberation.
Assistant State Attorney Gail Conolly said she was pleased with the sentences.
“He got everything he deserved,” she said Tuesday.
Florida Highway Patrol Cpl. Christine Gracey, who had to take cover under her steering wheel after Schminky rammed her patrol car with his Lexus SUV in the Circle K gas station at mile marker 106, firing rounds into her vehicle through his windshield, urged Garcia to lock Schminky up for good during the hearing.
“I have nightmares about that night,” she said. “I have nightmares about what he did to his wife.”
Gracey was referring to the beating Schminky dealt Honour Schminky outside the couple’s Buttonwood Drive home late at night, Jan. 20, 2015, after he became enraged that she kept asking about a doctor’s appointment she wanted him to go to.
Prior to the violence, Honour Schminky became concerned enough about his reaction to her questions that she called 911 on the couple’s land line. Robert Schminky grabbed the phone and hung it up. Honour called 911 back on her cell phone. That’s when he began swinging his shotgun at her like a baseball bat, striking her repeatedly as she begged him to stop.
Honour’s screams were recorded on the 911 call, as was each thud from the shotgun hitting her body. When Robert Schminky was finished hitting his wife, the gun’s stock was broken, and so were several of Honour’s ribs, her arm and her wrist.
Initially, Honour cooperated with prosecutors, but she eventually defended her husband, who pleaded not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. His attorney, Hal Schuhmacher, said his client was suffering withdrawal symptoms after coming off the anti-anxiety medication Paxil.
Honour Schminky asked Garcia for leniency Tuesday.
“The man that I know is not the man who acted the way he did that night,” she told Garcia. “He’s never raised a hand to me. He’s never hurt me except for that night. He’s a good man. I love him.”
The couple have been married for 19 years, according to county records.
When two deputies arrived that night, Schminky, who was a county public works employee at the time, fired two blasts from the shotgun into the ground and drove off. The two deputies, with Gracey close behind, chased Schminky north on U.S. 1. He led them onto State Road 905, which leads to Card Sound Road — the only other road that leads in and out of the Keys.
He then made a U-turn and headed south, and as he did, he fired shots into Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Sydney Whitehouse’s patrol car. Whitehouse returned fire but did not hit Schminky.
Whitehouse then found Schminky parked at the Circle K, located where U.S. 1 and 905 forks. Gracey drove her car toward the Lexus hoping to ram it into the woods, but Schminky rammed her first and began firing rounds into her car. She was able to shoot one round off after their two vehicles became separated.
Whitehouse also exchanged gunfire with Schminky at the Circle K, and a bullet from Schminky’s weapon grazed Whitehouse in the leg. Schminky drove off again, this time heading south on U.S. 1.
Two deputies finally caught Schminky at nearby St. Justin Martyr Catholic Church, where he parked the Lexus and ran off. But, before he gave up, he pointed his gun at Deputy Nestor Argote, who fired several shots at Schminky, but missed.
Argote, who was then joined by Sgt. Barney Sajdak, caught up to Schminky in a field, but struggled to cuff him. Sajdak testfied that he saw Schminky reach for his waistband during the scuffle, so he butt-stroked him in the back of his head with a rifle, ending the incident.
Police found a Smith and Wesson .44-caliber magnum revolver with six fired shell casings in Schminky's SUV. Six .40-caliber shell casings were also found in the car, as was the gun he had when he took off running, a 40-caliber Springfield semi-automatic handgun.
Neighbor Kenneth Schryver said he’s been friends with Robert Schminky for 20 years, and he’s always been “mellow” and easygoing.”
“I never, even in a thousand years, experienced any of the kind of behavior that Bob exhibited that night,” Schryver told Garcia.
Likewise, neighbor Lisa Mooney described Schminky as “the nicest guy in the world.”
But for Gracey and Whitehouse, even if Jan. 21, 2015, was an aberration compared with Schminky’s reported kind ways, he showed he’s capable of not only inflicting great harm on those he loves, but he’s also willing to kill those getting in his way.
“I don’t doubt it,” Whitehouse said of Schminky’s neighbors’ description of him as a kind person. “At one point, he might have been. But you have to remember, he tried to kill me. He tried to kill Trooper Gracey that night.”
David Goodhue: 305-440-3204