A Pennsylvania woman will spend the rest of her life behind bars after becoming the second person to be convicted of killing her fiancé’s 12-year-old son.
A Lebanon County jury took less than an hour to return a guilty verdict against 37-year-old Kimberly Marie Maurer on multiple felonies in connection with the horrific life and brutal death Maxwell Schollenberger, who prosecutors said “existed in a state of perpetual suffering,” authorities confirmed to Law&Crime.
Maurer was convicted on seven felony charges, including first-degree homicide and conspiracy. Under Pennsylvania state law, both charges subject to a mandatory sentence of life in prison, the Lebanon County District Attorney’s Office confirmed to Law&Crime. Her sentencing hearing is currently scheduled for June 1.
Following the verdict, Lebanon County District Attorney Pier Hess Graf said that the evidence presented during the trial showed “what pure evil personified looks like,” per the Lebanon Daily News.
“It shows how a child could be tortured, starved and punished in every way for existing,” she reportedly said. “And those twelve people stood up, looked [Maurer] in the face today and did right by that child.”
Graf reportedly added that Maurer was “one of the most manipulative defendants I’ve ever seen, in that every person she interacts with has to serve a purpose or that person has to get attacked.”
The child’s father, Scott Schollenberger, 43, last month pleaded guilty to a slew of felonies, including criminal homicide, child endangerment, and conspiracy. Judge Bradford Charles ordered Schollenberger to spend the remainder of his life in state prison.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, Annville Township Police along with members of the Lebanon County Detective Bureau on May 26, 2020 found Max’s emaciated body in the second-floor bedroom inside the home he shared with Maurer and Schollenberger.
In describing the grisly scene, prosecutors said that a completely naked Max and the bed were both “wholly covered in fecal matter.”
“Claw marks appeared in the child victim’s sheets; said marks made indentations on the stained feces,” prosecutors said. “Police removed the bedding and located piles of moldy fecal matter under the frame itself.”
Max’s room was reportedly pitch black despite having windows, because the shades were taped to the window frames and the doors screwed shut, authorities said. The only furniture in the room was Max’s appalling bed frame and mattress. Meanwhile, the door leading outside had three metal hooks. Schollenberger and Maurer reportedly admitted they used these hooks to lock the boy inside, per police.
The couple never enrolled Max in school and reportedly had not taken him to see a doctor in over a decade.
An autopsy conducted by a medical examiner concluded that Max had been severely undernourished. Weighing just 47.5 pounds and standing at only 50 inches, the child was also significantly undersized for his age. Ultimately the child’s cause of death was determined to be a homicide caused by blunt force trauma, with starvation and malnourishment serving as complicating factors.
Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Edward McCann reportedly told the Lebanon Daily that Max’s death was “the worst child abuse case he’s been involved with in his 32 years as a prosecutor.”
“Her kid was essentially tortured, jailed [and] basically his existence was erased while he was still alive,” he said. “I’ve never seen any crime scene that looked like this crime scene.”
Maurer’s court-appointed attorney, Andrew J. Race, did not immediately respond to an interview request from Law&Crime.
In an interview with PennLive, Race reportedly said that he was disappointed with the swiftness of the jury’s verdict, and maintained that his client was manipulated by Schollenberger.
“He took the license plate off her car and monitored her location by GPS. He took her phone. When someone has small children in that situation, it’s hard to leave, research shows,” the lawyer reportedly said. “The suggestion she would do this to Maxwell is difficult to understand.”
Alberto Luperon contributed to this report.
[image via Lebanon County]
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