Man faces 60 years in beating death of his girlfriend

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

— A Janesville man pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge that he fatally beat his girlfriend in January in their home near downtown Janesville.

The case is "tragic for everyone involved," assistant public defender Cynthia Stoppel said.

As part of a plea agreement, Michael R. Paul, 36, of 326 S. Parker Drive, Janesville, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a reduced charge of first-degree reckless homicide. He had been charged with first-degree intentional homicide after police Jan. 10 found the body of Lisa M. Schaefer, 49, under the stairs of the couple's home.

A felony charge of hiding a corpse was dismissed but read in as part of the plea agreement.

Paul faces up to 60 years in prison on the reckless homicide charge. He had faced a maximum of life in prison without parole on the first-degree intentional homicide charge.

He has been in custody at the Rock County Jail on a $200,000 bond, which Judge James Daley revoked Tuesday.

Paul appeared in court carrying a paperback book. He is clean shaven and has cut his hair short since he was arrested and booked into jail in January.

His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 21.

Schaefer's daughter called police Jan. 8 when she couldn't reach her mom by telephone. A police officer went to Schaefer's home and talked to Paul, according to the criminal complaint field in January. Paul told the officer he hadn't seen Schaefer since 10 p.m. the night before.

When asked about the injuries to his hand and face, Paul told the officer he had been punched and stepped on by a 300-pound man who came to his home early that morning, according to the complaint.

Schaefer's daughters sought information about their mom's disappearance through social media and by hanging posters with her picture. On Jan. 9, an old friend of Paul's talked with one of Schaefer's daughters. He said he'd had a number of strange phone calls from Paul. At one point, Paul had told the man that Schaefer was unconscious. The friend had urged Paul to call 911, according to the complaint.

On Jan. 10, police executed a search warrant at Paul's home. Police found Schaefer's body in a small storage area under the basement stairs. Paul on the night of Jan. 7 had covered her with a jacket, rags and clothes after he checked her pulse and found she was dead, according to the complaint.

He was scared and didn't know what to do, he told police, according to the complaint.

A medical examiner said Schaefer had broken teeth, swelled-shut eyes, broken facial bones and broken ribs. She died as a result of a hemorrhaged artery at the base of her neck that was caused by blunt trauma to her head and neck.

Last updated: 4:37 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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