Jury finds Robert Malick not guilty in murder case

Robert Malick arrives in a Virginia Beach courtroom for the first day of a jury trial. He is accused in the 1990 murder of Joan Schoppaul. Credit: WAVY/Aaron Kurtz

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A jury found Robert Malick not guilty in the 1990 murder of Joan Schoppaul on Monday.

Malick was charged with second-degree murder in 2014, after the case had been considered cold for more than two decades.

The jury’s verdict came out more than two hours of deliberation Monday.

Joan Schoppaul (Photo courtesy Schoppaul's family)
Joan Schoppaul (Photo courtesy Schoppaul’s family)

The time it took to decide Robert Malick’s fate felt like an eternity to his wife. Karen Malick said she’ll be forever grateful with their decision: not guilty.

“I never questioned his innocence, but I really hoped the jury could see it as well,” she said.

For two years, the future of the Malick family has been cloudy.

“Like I had a puzzle together of what my life was gonna be and someone took and just tore that puzzle apart and made all the pieces white,” Karen Malick explained.

Closing arguments were made Monday morning as the trial wrapped up. The Commonwealth’s Attorney hammered home his points: Malick’s finger prints found on the trash bags that police found Schoppaul’s body inside. Prosecutors also pointed to Malick’s alleged jailhouse confession to the murder.

Malick’s defense attorney, James Broccoletti, seized on the possibility of another suspect. He claimed Larry Outten, who died in 1996, confessed to the murder on his deathbed. 

“When that man went to the grave with a picture of Joan Schoppaul in his wallet, to me, that speaks volumes,” Broccoletti said.

Man says brother confessed in 1996 to murder in Malick case

Malick’s wife told 10 On Your Side’s Matt Gregory that her husband’s first taste of freedom will be a meal from KFC.

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