Parents of murder victim finally receive retainer fee refund

By Steve Korris | Jul 5, 2010


BELLEVILLE – Parents of murder victim Jennifer Anderson waited in vain all day last Thursday for a $1,600 refund from a lawyer they expected to dig into their daughter's death.

As St. Clair County courthouse closed on July 1, Michael and Cynthia Anderson hadn't seen the money that James Schottel Jr., of St. Louis, promised the day before.

It finally arrived in the mail on Friday, according to Cynthia Anderson.

Circuit Judge Patrick Young had warned Schottel that if he didn't pay, Young would order body attachment.

That would mean sending the sheriff with a warrant for civil contempt.

Jennifer Anderson and racketeer Thomas Venezia died of gunshot wounds in 2005.

A coroner's jury concluded that Venezia shot Anderson and himself, but her parents still suspected the crime involved more than two people.

They retained Schottel and local lawyer William Berry to file a wrongful death suit against Venezia's estate.

They also sued Robert Staack, alleging he negligently gave Venezia the gun.

Though the Andersons filed a suit, no one served it on the estate or Staack.

Schottel missed hearings, and last year he formally moved to withdraw.

Young allowed him to withdraw last December, pending repayment of the $1,600.

Schottel moved to reconsider, and Young declined.

Schottel asked the Illinois Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus authorizing him to keep the $1,600, and the Court denied it.

Schottel did not appear at a hearing May 3, and Young ordered repayment by May 13.

Young set a June 30 hearing on a rule to show cause under threat of contempt.

Schottel showed up, in a way.

He arranged a telephone conference as an accommodation of a disability.

Young said, "I looked at you and asked. I distinctly remember. You said, if the court orders it I will do it."

Young said that to avoid holding him in contempt, he would vacate the rule to show cause the next day if the Andersons said they received payment.

Schottel, by long distance, assured Young and Cynthia Anderson that he would send payment by overnight courier.

Young promised a body attachment if it didn't happen.

Schottel said, "I'll make sure."

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