Attorney: Paxil withdrawal triggered client’s shooting rampage against police
A Key Largo man who prosecutors say severely beat his wife with the stock of a shotgun in 2015 and then engaged in a rolling gun battle with police — wounding one officer — changed his not-guilty plea to insanity due to what he says is withdrawal from the anti-anxiety medication Paxil.
And his wife has gone from a witness for the prosecution to a defense witness.
Honour Schminky, wife of Robert Schminky — charged with four counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of battery on law enforcement officers and a misdemeanor of discharging a gun in public — declined to comment when asked outside the Plantation Key courthouse about the case Tuesday morning. A trial has tentatively been scheduled for July.
Robert Schminky’s attorney, Hal Schuhmacher, filed the change of plea on Friday in Monroe County Circuit Court. Chief Assistant State Attorney Mark Wilson said Tuesday that his office will hire its own psychiatrist to evaluate Schminky.
“Insanity is an all-or-nothing proposition,” Wilson said.
Palm Beach psychiatrist Dr. Stefan Rose is expected to testify that Schminky, 59, suffered from amnesia on Jan. 21, 2015, “due to Paxil discontinuation syndrome” when he beat his wife with the shotgun so savagely that it broke several of her ribs and the gun’s stock. Schminky fired the weapon into the ground twice as Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the couple’s Buttonwood Drive home shortly before midnight.
According to court documents, Schminky then sped off in his Lexus SUV. Deputies chased as Schminky led them north up County Road 905 while firing pistol rounds at them. He then turned around and pulled into the Circle K gas station parking lot that splits County Road 905 from the 18-Mile Stretch of U.S. 1 — the two roads that lead in and out of the Keys.
Two Sheriff’s Office cruisers and a Florida Highway Patrol car driven by Cpl. Christine Gracey corralled Schminky’s vehicle. Schminky rammed Gracey’s car and the two vehicles became temporarily locked together. Rather than give up, police say Schminky opened fire, shooting a total of 31 rounds. One bullet entered Gracey’s car and two shattered the blue lights on top of the vehicle.
Schminky also fired at deputies. One round grazed Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Sidney Whitehouse’s leg. Schminky managed to free his Lexus and drive away. While her car was stuck to Schminky’s, Gracey said she did not feel it was safe to return fire because two Sheriff’s Office cars were on both sides of her cruiser. But when Schmiky backed up, she fired one shot at his fleeing vehicle.
Gracey was awarded the FHP’s Medal of Valor in May 2015 for her courage under fire. She was also awarded the department’s Purple Heart medal because the gunshot fired into her car caused her to suffer hearing damage.
After the skirmish at the Circle K, Schminky drove to St. Justin Martyr Catholic Church near mile marker 105.5. He reportedly fired several shots at Deputy Nestor Argote and ran off but soon was captured by Argote and Detective Barney Sajdak.
In the Lexus, officers found a .44-magnum revolver with six empty shell casings, and six shells apparently from a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun, according to the 2015 arrest affidavit.
David Goodhue: 305-440-3204