Questions raised in $10,000 bond for murder-suicide shooter

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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) - Outrage has been followed by questions after Tuesday night's murder-suicide in the Village of Harrison.

Robert Schmidt mug shot
Calumet County Jail photo

People are wondering why bond wasn't set higher for Robert Schmidt after he was arrested and charged last week with kidnapping and assaulting his wife, Sara. Then, just days after posting his $10,000 bond, deputies say he shot and killed his wife before taking his own life.

Outagamie County Judge John Des Jardins has seen his fair share of defendants in court. He's set bond in hundreds of cases. And while he can't speak directly to what happened in Calumet County Court in the case against Robert Schmidt, he says the main purpose of bond is to ensure a defendant returns to court. A judge then looks at other circumstances.

"You look at the crime itself, but you also look at their prior record. You look at the facts of the case, how strong it is and then set a bond," according to Des Jardins.

Calumet County court officials didn't return phone calls from Action 2 News as we tried to obtain the transcript from Schmidt's court appearance, but online court records don't show any criminal history in Schmidt's past and the criminal complaint filed in the assault case doesn't mention any prior incidents of abuse or assault, either. Those are all factors Judge Des Jardins says would be taken into account when setting bond.

He adds, "In all of the cases where bond is set, there's a potential for a ticking time bomb to occur that nobody anticipates, so it's a risk that every judge takes when they set bond."

Officials at Harbor House, a domestic abuse shelter, say in the Schmidt case it appears the $10,000 bond wasn't enough. But, they've had similar cases where bond was less and it proved sufficient.

Harbor House officials say now, more than ever they need to be opening discussions on how everyone in these situations can do better.

"We're all working within systems, right? And sometimes we have to look and say, it's not working, how do we change a system and not blame an individual who is part of carrying out the system work, but look at the root of what's happening here and how systems work," says Wendy Gehl from Harbor House.

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