Jason Schuller, convicted of murder, sentenced to 50 years to life by Nevada County judge
May 14, 2018
Jason Schuller, convicted of murder in the 2016 shooting death of William Tackett, was sentenced Monday to 50 years to life in prison.
Schuller, 37, said nothing as Nevada County Superior Court Judge Candace Heidelberger opted to include a weapons enhancement in the sentence — a legal finding that doubled his minimum time in prison. The judge could have sentenced Schuller to 25 years to life for the murder of Tackett, 67.
"It's been said that people hate what they don't understand," said Heather Tackett, William Tackett's daughter, to Schuller. "I completely understand what and who you are."
Heather Tackett, at her father's Grass Valley home when Schuller shot him nine times and set the body on fire, said her father taught her that the best revenge is to live well.
"And that's exactly what we will do," she said. "But you — you are a dead man walking."
Tackett forgave Schuller, adding that she refuses to shoulder his burden.
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After the hearing, Tackett called the sentence "deserved." She said Schuller no longer is an aspect of her life. He'll go to prison, Tackett said, and she'll live with her children and enjoy life.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said the judge had discretion on the weapons enhancement, but opted for the higher range.
"The judge absolutely made the right call," he said. "The defendant shot nine bullets into the victim's head."
Micah Pierce, Schuller's deputy public defender, stated in court filings that Schuller would be 60 years old when eligible for parole, if sentenced to 25 years to life.
"Assuming Mr. Schuller meets eligibility for parole at 60, and taking the cost of imprisonment to be $71,000 per year, the public would pay $1.7 million for Mr. Schuller to be incarcerated," Pierce writes.
A sentence of 50 years to life would make Schuller eligible for parole at 85, Pierce states.
"What will the public gain for this second $1.7 million expenditure?" Pierce asks. "The answer to that question is unknowable."
Heidelberger told Schuller that he took advantage of William Tackett's kindness, and that no mitigating factors existed to warrant a sentence of 25 years to life. If any did exist, Schuller's actions would outweigh them.
A jury in December convicted Schuller of first-degree murder. It found that Schuller fled Tackett's home after shooting him and setting his body on fire. Schuller then fled to Sacramento, where authorities arrested him after a three-county chase.
Schuller testified that he saw visions in the weeks before the shooting and believed that William Tackett was Lucifer. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
The jury reached no decision on Schuller's sanity at the time of the March 20, 2016, shooting. Prosecutors retried him in March. Jurors in that retrial took under an hour to find him sane.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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