Jury finds Robert Malick not guilty in murder trial

Posted at 11:27 AM, Jun 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-13 17:44:56-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A jury has reached a verdict in the trial of Robert Malick, a man accused of a murdering a 17-year-old girl in Virginia Beach in 1990.

The jury has found Malick not guilty in his charges of second degree murder.

Robert Malick, 48, was arrested on December 15, 2014, in Erie, Penn., and was charged for the 1990 killing of 17-year-old Joan Schoppaul.

Malick entered a plea of not guilty.

The trial lasted nearly a week. It included testimonies from medical experts, detectives who worked the case, acquaintances of the victim, and even an inmate who said Malick confessed to the crime while serving time in jail.

Meanwhile, Malick's lawyer argued that another man in the neighborhood killed the teen. Relatives of the now deceased man testified, saying that man admitted to the killing.

A detective and the prosecutor said it was four bloody fingerprints found at the crime scene nearly 26 years ago that led police to Malick. A detective said a "fingerprint card" from a federal job for which Malick had applied was later included in a nationwide database, and that's how police made the match.

Joan Schoppaul

Joan Schoppaul

Schoppaul was last seen on the morning of Tuesday, December 4, 1990. She was to return home after visiting a friend but never arrived. Her worried parents filed a missing persons report, according to police. Police said that when they first asked Malick about Schoppaul, who lived across the street from him, he said only that he knew the teen in passing. Later, according to Det. Doug Zebley, Malick admitted he'd had sex with the girl before she disappeared.

Within 24 hours of leaving home, Joan’s body was found. She had been wrapped in layers of trash bags and a blue sleeping bag and tossed into a dumpster behind the former Food Lion Supermarket located at 4740 Baxter Road. Police said she was strangled and sexually assaulted.

The prosecution rested their case on Thursday. The defense rested their case on Friday.


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