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Cop shootout defendant’s trial delayed again

Following a visit to a neurologist earlier this month, the trial for a man charged with engaging in a wild shootout with police after savagely beating his wife in 2015 is delayed once again.

Robert Schminky, 59, was scheduled to stand trial July 17 on a slew of felonies, including three counts of attempted first-degree murder, related to the Jan. 26, 2015, rampage in which he shot up a Florida Highway Patrol cruiser and shot a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputy in the leg, according to his arrest report.

But the case has languished in the courts with one continuance after the other. Then in May, matters became more complicated for the prosecution when Schminky changed his plea from not guilty to not guilty because of temporary insanity. His attorney, Hal Schuhmacher, said Schminky was temporarily insane that night because he was suffering withdrawal symptoms from not taking the anti-anxiety medication Paxil.

Next, his wife Honour Schminky went from being a witness for the State Attorney’s Office to a defense witness. Then on July 14, the Friday before the week the trial was supposed to begin, Schuhmacher took his client to see neurologist Dr. Hal Pineless in Winter Park for “evaluation and testing.” Schuhmacher declined to comment on the specifics of the visit.

Although the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office is not commenting on the case other than what is public record, the doctor’s visit was apparently effective in scoring the defense another continuance. Schminky’s next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 5.

Deputies went to Schminky’s Buttonwood Drive home to respond to a domestic dispute. According to Schminky’s arrest report, he beat his wife with a shotgun and broke several of her ribs and the gun’s stock in the process. As deputies arrived at the couple’s home, Schminky fired the weapon into the ground twice.

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 an FHP car driven by Cpl. Christine Gracey surrounded Schminky’s vehicle. Schminky rammed Gracey’s car and the two vehicles became temporarily stuck together. Instead of surrendering, however, 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 freed his Lexus and drove off. While her car was locked with 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. She evaluated the situation differently as Schminky backed his car away and 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 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

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