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Jury convicts Ross in Valentine's Day slaying
Richard Schoeck was killed at Belton Bridge Park; 2 others accused in plot
Standing next to defense attorney Rodney Williams, Lynitra Ross, right, reacts Tuesday as a Hall County jury reads a guilty verdict. Ross was found guilty of malice murder in the 2010 death of Richard Schoeck. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

A Hall County jury found Lynitra Ross guilty of murder Tuesday in the 2010 death of Richard Schoeck.

Ross was accused of serving as the “go-between” in a plot to kill Schoeck at Belton Bridge Park in Lula on Valentine’s Day 2010.

The jury, which began deliberations Monday, delivered the verdict a week after Ross’ trial began May 15.

Ross, of Austell, will be sentenced by Hall County Superior Court Judge Jason Deal at a later date.

Because she was charged with malice murder, Ross faces a life sentence in prison. It will be up to Deal to decide whether she has any chance of parole.

Schoeck, of Snellville, was shot to death in what prosecutors say was a murder for hire as he waited for his wife at the park in Lula well after dark on Feb. 14, 2010, to exchange Valentine’s gifts.

Two others are charged with murder in the slaying.

His wife, Stacey Schoeck, testified in Ross’ trial that she hired Reginald Coleman, an on-again-off-again love interest of Ross, to do the job. Stacey Schoeck said Ross helped connect her with Coleman and that she gave Ross a house as payment.

Coleman, of Austell, allegedly received $10,000 for pulling the trigger.

Stacey Schoeck is expected to enter a guilty plea to the charges; because of the testimony she provided in Ross’ trial, prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against her.

Alleged triggerman Coleman, however, likely will face the death penalty if convicted.

Prosecutors linked Ross to the case using reams of phone and financial records gathered by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office in its investigation of the killing. Much of her trial centered on whether Ross actually knew she was helping to arrange a slaying when she connected Stacey Schoeck and Coleman.

Defense attorneys argued that prosecutors did not have enough evidence to prove that Ross knew Stacey Schoeck wanted her husband killed, calling into question the credibility of Stacey Schoeck, who served as the main witness linking Ross to a murder charge.

“The verdict was certainly justified by the evidence, and we’ll be arguing appropriate sentencing when scheduled,” Hall County District Attorney Lee Darragh said.

A number of Richard Schoeck’s family members were present in court Tuesday bearing various mementos of their late relative, who was an avid hot-air balloonist and Boy Scout leader.

They have reserved comment until after both Stacey Schoeck’s and Coleman’s cases are closed.

Ross’ attorney, Rodney Williams, was unaware of any intention of Ross to appeal the verdict.

“Justice was served,” he said.

Ross will remain in Hall County custody until her sentencing.