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Florida woman accused of 2018 murder of mother in Belleplain to be released from jail pretrial

Florida woman accused of 2018 murder of mother in Belleplain to be released from jail pretrial

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CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — A Florida woman accused of killing her mother two years ago to get a $90,000 inheritance has been ordered released from jail before trial.

Josephine A. Scheid, 37, of Sarasota, charged with murder in the 2018 death of Gabrielle Michaelis, 59, of Belleplain in Dennis Township, appeared virtually Friday morning before Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Bernard E. Delury.

During the hearing, her attorneys, John Zarych and Brenden Shur, successfully argued for her release pretrial, citing changes in evidence, including Michaelis’ cause of death.

“Detention is not appropriate here,” Zarych said. “ ... She’s been held in jail on a murder charge on a murder that she did not commit.”

Scheid is also charged with endangering, theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, hindering and obstruction. The Dec. 3 indictment on those charges still stands.

Michaelis, who was under hospice care for terminal cancer in October 2018, died of a lethal mix of prescription medications, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Zarych argued Michaelis died of cancer, citing a forensic pathologist who reviewed the case.

Evidence presented to the court during previous hearings showed that Scheid had researched on a computer about how to carry out a death by application of certain medications.

“It has now come to the attention of the parties that at least the computer that was analyzed — that evidence did not predate the death of the decedent, but rather was obtained or accessed after the death of the decedent,” Delury said while delivering his decision. “It’s an important point.”

In addition, there are concerns about the chain of custody of the blood drawn during the investigation.

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Saverio Carroccia asked that Scheid remained detained, but also gave a list of recommended conditions if Delury decided to release her.

“In the grand scheme of the entire case, where we sit right now, it is a sliver of proof that the state no longer has,” he said. “Specifically, it is the drug research obtained from the forensic analysis of Miss Scheid’s computer post-dates the victim’s death rather than predates.”

As conditions of her release, Scheid must be fitted with an electronic monitoring device, which may not be available until Wednesday.

She must stay in Atlantic or Cape May county unless she is permitted to travel by the court, abide by a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew, is prohibited from contact with victims or witnesses in the case, and must report to court staff telephonically once every other week and in person once every other week, among other conditions.

Scheid was extradited from Florida in November.

Through a yearlong investigation, officials found Scheid, who had the power of attorney for her mother, contacted an attorney in the weeks before Michaelis died to find out how she could get a $90,000 inheritance from her grandmother’s estate, which was controlled by Michaelis, according to the affidavit.

Scheid “also sent a text message stating that she did not get paid until her mother dies and that maybe she should place a pillow over the victim’s face to suffocate her,” the document states.

She also told a friend she was thinking about over-medicating Michaelis, records show.

Scheid’s next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 18. She is currently held in the Cape May County jail.

GALLERY: A tour of the new Cape May County Jail

Contact: 609-272-7241

mbilinski@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressMollyB

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Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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