Tourist's grieving mother speaks at killer's sentencing - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Tourist's grieving mother speaks at killer's sentencing

Less Schnabel, Jr. Less Schnabel, Jr.
Christopher Reuther Christopher Reuther
Judy Wilson Judy Wilson
Theona Schnabel Theona Schnabel
Zablan Beach Park in Nanakuli Zablan Beach Park in Nanakuli

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A man convicted of killing a tourist, who was sightseeing on Oahu's Leeward coast, received his punishment Wednesday. Less Schnabel, Jr. asked for probation, while prosecutors sought a 20-year prison term.

Judy Wilson describes her son as the most intelligent person she ever knew, a compassionate man who lived each day as an adventure.

"The last words my son ever said to me were, 'I'll call you tomorrow, but you can always call me. I'll be here. I love you,'" she said while choking back tears.

Less Schnabel, Jr. was convicted of manslaughter. Wilson's son, Christopher Reuther, a law school hopeful from North Carolina, died after Schnabel, who was high on drugs, punched him in the head at Zablan Beach Park in Nanakuli last year.

"I told him that if he decided to camp, to please go to a public beach, preferably a county or state park where he would be safe," Wilson recalled. "This is one time I wish, with all my heart, that he hadn't followed my advice."

Wilson, who's battling breast cancer, put off her radical mastectomy and radiation treatment to make the trip to Hawaii for the sentencing.

"I'm very well aware that I'm gambling with my life," she said. "But justice for my son is my only priority."

"I would like to apologize for what I have done, for punching Christopher Reuther, and for the fact that he died," Schnabel said.

"We have been feeling what you've been feeling, even if you don't believe it," Theona Schnabel, convicted killer's mother, said. "We've been going through hell."

The judge praises the 23-year-old for taking steps to turn his life around, but says his attack was unprovoked and tragic. Sheriffs take him into custody, after he receives the maximum 20-year prison term.

"Nothing will ever, ever bring Chris back," Wilson said. "But this will bring some closure."

The Hawaii parole board will decide how much of the 20 years Schnabel must serve before he's eligible for release.

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