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Town Hopes Plea Brings Closure

October 15, 1999

YUTAN, Neb. (AP) _ A man accused of killing his wife and staging a fiery auto accident to cover up the crime pleaded no contest to murder.

Mark Schnabel, who entered the plea Thursday, could get up to life in prison in the slaying of his wife, Sandy, a high school volleyball coach. Her beaten body was found under their burning minivan at their home May 22.

Schnabel, a 42-year-old landscape designer, had claimed she died in an accident. He was arrested in front of friends and relatives after his wife’s funeral.

Prosecutors said he beat his wife in the head at their home and then staged the accident. Blood spatters were found on the walls and ceiling of the kitchen and the living room.

Schnabel had taken out a $200,000 life insurance policy on his wife about a year before.

Sentencing was set for Nov. 30.