A 35-year-old man pleaded no contest Thursday to the ax killings of his grandparents, who were found dead nearly two years ago in the Glendale home the three shared.
Nathaniel Wayne Scheiern entered his plea to one count of first-degree murder for the killing of 82-year-old Verna Scheiern and second-degree murder for the slaying of 77-year-old William Scheiern.
He is facing 41 years to life in state prison, with sentencing set for June 22 at the Pasadena courthouse, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Police officers found the home’s front door open and discovered the bodies on June 28, 2015, after getting a call from the defendant’s sister, who was concerned that she hadn’t heard from the couple.
The couple’s grandson lived with them, but was not at the residence when the bodies were found. Authorities subsequently learned that he had been hospitalized after a single-car crash June 25 on a freeway in Santa Clarita.
Scheiern attacked his grandmother with an ax, then struck his grandfather with a hammer when the older man tried to intervene, according to Deputy District Attorney Fernanda Barreto.
Authorities believe the killings occurred between June 24 and June 25.
“He stated that he murdered his grandparents,” Glendale police Detective Jeff Davis testified last year at a hearing in which Scheiern was ordered to stand trial.
The Glendale News-Press reported that police said Scheirn was infatuated with and influenced by radical Islamists when he attacked his grandparents after attending church with them. But prosecutors did not disclose a motive for the killings.
A defense attorney suggested at an August 2016 hearing that Schiern had been molested by his grandfather as a child, but a police detective said an investigation determined the allegations were unfounded, according to the Glendale News-Press.
— City News Service