Trial begins on attempted murder charge, La Mesan was shot at point-blank range — (San Diego Union-Tribune)

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The San Diego Union-Tribune, (CA)

December 15, 1993

Author: LESLIE WOLF; Staff Writer[]

Robert Schry Jr. didn’t know Joel Lutz when he shot him in the face at point-blank range on an August night in La Mesa.

Lutz, who was unarmed, also had never met his attacker, but was merely playing the role of a good Samaritan when he tried to stop Schry from slashing the tires of a neighbor’s truck.

Yesterday, the first day of his trial for attempted murder, Schry’s side of the story became public for the first time. He was a man deep in the throes of depression, his lawyer said, who had not only been abusing steroids for two decades, but took daily doses of prescription drugs ranging from Valium to Prozac.

Schry didn’t mean to shoot Lutz, defense attorney Karsten Boone told jurors. But Schry’s actions that night quickly snowballed out of control, culminating in a high-speed chase and a standoff with police.

Schry had gone to Campina Drive in La Mesa the night of Aug. 7 because he was obsessed with a young woman and was “bent on murder,” prosecutor George Bennett said.

After shooting Lutz, Schry led officers high into the Laguna Mountains in his Dodge Stealth at speeds up to 130 miles per hour, sometimes driving on the wrong side of the road with his headlights off, according to Bennett. Schry nearly lost his pursuers, but then crashed on the side of the road.

He held police at bay for eight more hours. Boone said Schry was despondent and held a semiautomatic pistol to his head through the night, while police waited. “He said he would kill himself, but he wanted to see a sunrise first,” Boone said.

As the sun rose, police fired tear gas into the car, flushing Schry out. After he was arrested, officers found an arsenal inside the vehicle: a 12-gauge shotgun, a .22-caliber rifle, a 9mm pistol, a .357-caliber Magnum handgun, two .380-caliber automatic guns and the .22-caliber pistol he used to shoot Lutz. All were loaded.

Schry, a 45-year-old ex-schoolteacher from Kensington, is being tried for attempted murder, reckless driving and evading police officers.

During opening statements in his Superior Court trial yesterday, Bennett said the shooting of Lutz — who survived, although blinded in one eye — was unprovoked. “There is nothing to mitigate this crime,” Bennett said.

Schry, a San Diego police officer for two years in the 1970s, had been a physical education teacher for 17 years. He was working at Pacific Beach Middle School in 1989 when he met 19-year-old Diana Galindo, a computer lab assistant at the school.

In the days preceding the shooting, Galindo had not only rejected Schry’s advances, she had returned a car he leased for her and obtained a restraining order against him. “Mr. Schry, at that point, lost it,” Bennett told the jury. “His obsession became not simply an uncontrollable fantasy, but a murderous rage.”

He went to the apartment complex where Galindo lived and was slashing the tires on her new pickup truck when Lutz intervened.

Boone said Schry was trying to flee, when Lutz chased him into an apartment complex laundry room. “Robert Schry wanted to get away,” Boone said. “He reached into his fanny pack to show Mr. Lutz, to say ‘leave me alone, I have a gun,’ and the gun went off.”

Boone also said Schry’s problems started years before, when he began using anabolic steroids as a competitive bodybuilder. “Steroids help build muscle and definition, and they also affect your mind,” Boone said. In addition, Boone said Schry was taking multiple prescription drugs on a daily basis, including the anti-depression medication Prozac, tranquilizers and painkillers.

Part of his depression stemmed from a motorcycle accident that damaged his arm, curtailing Schry’s obsessive workout schedule, Boone said.

Galindo, now 22, testified yesterday that she and Schry developed a friendship that included working out at Gold’s gym in Pacific Beach and going target shooting in the mountains. Galindo accompanied Schry to a bodybuilding competition in Los Angeles, and on occasion spent the night at his house, though their relationship remained platonic, she said.

Galindo needed a car, but couldn’t afford one, so Schry made the $2,000 down payment on a leased car in May, she said. They began to argue over the car and her payments, however, and Galindo said she didn’t like his possessiveness, so she returned it.

Boone said Schry assumed she would return to him for the vehicle, which was still leased in his name, but instead she bought a new truck and filed for a restraining order.

Dateline:  EL CAJON
Record Number:  UTS1100458