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November 25, 2014

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Bail reduced in abuse case stemming from girls’ stabbing

Tamara Ann Schmidt -- the mother of two children who were stabbed in Mesquite -- and her husband, who are both charged with multiple counts of child abuse and neglect, were released from custody on Tuesday after a judge reduced their bail to $36,000 from $810,000.

District Judge Donald Mosley reinstated the bail amount Tamara Schmidt and her husband, Robert John Schmidt II, posted in Mesquite Justice Court prior to being indicted on the charges.

The $36,000 each that the Schmidts posted in Justice Court essentially rolled over because of Mosley's decision and both were released from Clark County Detention Center later in the day.

Mosley reinstated the original bail after determining the couple didn't pose a flight risk or danger to society. He did, however, impose strict conditions for them to follow while out of custody.

"Neither of you will leave this jurisdiction or have any contact with Brittney (Bergeron) unless Child Protective Services authorizes it," Mosley said. "That means no telephone calls or indirect contact through a friend. The first violation and you'll be sitting over here (pointing to those defendants in custody in the courtroom) and there won't be a question of bail."

Mosley also told the Schmidts "this drug use is going to stop," a warning that prompted Robert Schmidt to say "we've both been clean for two and a half years."

Then-10-year-old Brittney Bergeron and her 3-year-old half-sister, Kristyanna Cowan, were stabbed after being left by themselves at the Casablanca RV Park. Kristyanna was killed and Brittney was left paralyzed from the waist down.

The Schmidts have both pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of child abuse and neglect for leaving the children home alone the night of the murder and for allegedly routinely getting high on drugs and leaving the two children at home alone while the couple went to gamble at casinos. They are scheduled to stand trial on April 4 before Mosley.

Although the Schmidts' trial is more than a month away, Tamara Schmidt's attorney, Steve Caruso, is already pleading his case and making allegations against the District Attorney's office in the process.

"This is about the next election day," Caruso said. "They are taking pot shots against someone who can't defend herself. I don't think it's right for the district attorney's office to use them (the Schmidts) as a re-election platform issue."

Deputy District Attorney Lisa Luzaich Rego scoffed at Caruso's statement.

"That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life," Luzaich Rego said. "We prosecute the cases that need to be prosecuted. According to the defense it's OK to leave a 3 year-old and a 10-year-old home alone repeatedly in a trailer while the mother and her boyfriend go gamble at a casino all night when you don't even have money for rent or food."

Caruso believes Tamara Schmidt has already suffered more than anyone could imagine and the unfounded charges against his client were a "slap in the face."

"She (Tamara Schmidt) lost her child and to make matters worse, more horrific they (prosecutors ) are trying to compound it by making an example of her by filing felony charges against her, it's a disgrace," Caruso said.

Luzaich Rego said while she was upset Mosley lowered the bail she "respected his decision and the truth about the Schmidts will come out at trial.

In arguing for Mosley to keep the bail at $800,000 Luzaich Rego told Mosley Tamara Schmidt was no stranger to the legal system. She said several years ago Schmidt lost custody of her son in California because her drug use.

The prosecutor said Brittney Bergeron and Kristyanna Cowan were both taken from Tamara Schmidt on different occasions on grounds of drug use and neglect, also in California.

Beau and Monique Maestas have been charged in connection with the attack on the girls. Authorities allege the children were attacked after the Maestas siblings discovered that the Schmidts sold them bogus methamphetamine.

The Maestas siblings are scheduled to stand trial on May 31.

Brittney Bergeron, now 12, lives with a foster family. A hearing to determine whether Tamara Schmidt's parental rights will be terminated is scheduled for April 8 in Clark County Family Court.

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