VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach judge has ruled that the jury in the Robert Malick murder trial can hear evidence showing someone else could have committed the crime.
Prosecutors had argued against allowing the introduction of that evidence Thursday.
Police say Malick killed 17-year-old Joan Schoppaul in 1990 and left her body in a sleeping bag in a dumpster behind a grocery store off Baxter Road. The case went cold until Malick’s arrest in Pennsylvania in 2014.
A fingerprint expert testified that fingerprints left on plastic bags at the murder scene matched Malick’s profile in a national database.
While the jury was out of the courtroom, William Outten testified that his brother, Larry Outten confessed to killing Schoppaul. William said that he jokingly asked Larry if he killed Schoppaul and he said he did, but would not say why or how. Larry died shortly after that, William said.
Larry Outten’s son testified in front of the jury that he recognized the sleeping bag from the crime scene as one he had used before. He said his father would spend time with Schoppaul, who worked as the family’s babysitter.
A retired detective testified that when he arrived in Pennsylvania to talk to Malick decades after the murder, Malick took a step back, gasped, and put his hand to his chest. He said Malick admitted, “Yes. I was with her the night before she was found. I had sex with a minor and I’m not proud of it.” Later, he said Malick told police, “I’ve done something and I don’t know how to get out of it.”
The prosecution rested its case shortly before 11:00 a.m. Thursday. Defense witness testimony is expected to continue Friday.