Hulbert, 20, attacked Robert Schwartz, 57, at his secluded Leesburg farm house on Dec. 8, 2001, at the behest of Schwartz’s daughter, Clara Jane, Loudoun prosecutors said. Clara Schwartz had told Hulbert that her father hit her, pulled her hair and poisoned her food, and Hulbert told police he was haunted by images of his friend’s suffering.
Yesterday in Loudoun County Circuit Court, Hulbert apologized to the Schwartz family and said he thought what he “was doing was right” when he slashed and stabbed Robert Schwartz.
“There is nothing I wouldn’t give to take that act back,” Hulbert said. “I allowed myself to be poisoned by Clara.”
Hulbert’s sentencing is a key moment in the story of a group of friends whose shared interest in fantasy worlds was at the center of one of Loudoun’s most bizarre killings. Clara Schwartz is serving a 48-year prison sentence for orchestrating her father’s death, and another friend, Michael Pfohl, 22, is serving an 18-year sentence for second-degree murder. Pfohl’s girlfriend, Katherine Inglis, 20, faces a conspiracy charge in the plot.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys said Hulbert, who has a long history of mental illness and spent much of his childhood in mental institutions, created a fantasy world in which he saw himself as a protector of the downtrodden. When Clara Schwartz came to Hulbert complaining that she was abused by her father, he felt compelled to act, said Hulbert’s attorney, William Fitzpatrick.
“But for Mr. Hulbert’s mental health . . . this never would have happened,” Fitzpatrick said. “She was the puppet master. Kyle Hulbert was the puppet.”
Circuit Judge Thomas D. Horne said he sympathized with Hulbert’s difficult childhood and understood why Hulbert took refuge in a fantasy world. But he said Hulbert was responsible for his actions when he killed Schwartz.
“This is not a fantasy world for [the Schwartz family]. It’s real,” Horne said. “Every day they live with the death of Robert, a child, a father, and the fact that he left this world at your hands and at the hands of his own daughter.”