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Originally published: 2012-09-17 13:26:43
Last modified: 2012-09-17 17:59:09

Meade pleads guilty to murder

The man accused of killing his wife in Seven Devils in 2009 before fleeing to Mexico pleaded guilty last week to second-degree murder.

Christopher Warren Meade, 29, was charged with an undesignated murder charge and financial card theft after his capture in December 2010 near Reynosa, Mexico.

Meade had been sought for more than a year after his wife, 41-year-old Deana Elizabeth Schermerhorn, was reported missing and then found dead in a shallow grave in the couple’s yard in Seven Devils.

In court Sept. 11, Meade pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to between 14 years and 17 years, seven months in prison, according to court records.

Judge Gary Gavenus credited Meade for 620 days already served in jail and ordered him to pay $6,534.50 in court costs, a $1,500 fine and $3,000 in restitution to Schermerhorn’s family.

As part of the plea agreement, the charge of financial card theft was dismissed.

Schermerhorn’s parents, Jon and Pat Poulakis of Rochester, N.Y., along with their sons, attended the trial.

Pat Poulakis said her family was grateful for the work of the judge, assistant district attorney and police who worked on the case but was disappointed with the penalties the law outlines for second-degree murder.

“It’s just not a long enough term,” she said Monday. “He did a heinous deed, and he should have to pay for it for the rest of his life.”

Schermerhorn was last seen alive by a family member Nov. 7, 2009, according to court documents.

Concerned family members called police soon after. An officer who checked the couple’s home at 286 Deepwood Court, Seven Devils, on Nov. 13, 2009, found no sign of the woman.

Meade later dropped off Schermerhorn’s son, then 4, with family members. The boy told a forensic psychologist Nov. 19, 2009, about his father “using ‘sticky tape’ and possibly wrapping his mother up in a blanket and covering his mother with sticks,” according to a search warrant.

“Dodie” Perry, Meade’s mother, told police that her son had made comments about killing Schermerhorn and feeling guilty, according to court documents.

It wasn’t until Dec. 14, 2009, that Capt. Bobby Powell of the Seven Devils Police Department found Schermerhorn’s body while again searching the area near the home.

An autopsy determined that the woman died of blunt force trauma to the head.

Officers seized from the property a shovel, drywall hammer and a rake, items they believed might be the murder weapon and burial tools, according to court records.

While police continued to seek Meade for questioning in the death, FOX featured the case on the TV series “America’s Most Wanted” in August 2010.

Meade finally was located with the help of U.S. Marshals near Reynosa, Mexico, and arrested on Dec. 28, 2010.

He was extradited to North Carolina, where he awaited trial before learning his fate last week.

Pat Poulakis said Monday that she and her sons met with Assistant District Attorney Britt Springer in August to discuss the plea.

She said her family was in support of a plea bargain because it would prevent her grandson from being involved in the trial.

But she said the 14-year minimum sentence “doesn’t even make any logical sense” and said the legislature needs to reconsider the law.

With the court process completed, the family members are working to move forward with their lives, she said.

“I’m glad it’s behind us,” Poulakis said. “It isn’t the outcome we would have wanted or hoped for, but at least (Meade)’s where he belongs right now.”