John du Pont Convicted of Murder

by Ginny and John Dover

Reuter News Service reported in late February that John du Pont, 58, was found guilty of third-degree murder, a charge which means he acted with malice, but without a premeditated intent to kill. He will face between five and forty years in prison for the January 1996 killing of Olympic champion wrestler David Schultz. He was also found mentally ill which lets him obtain treatment before serving the rest of his sentence in prison. His psychiatrists argued that his disease (paranoid schizophrenia) was responsible for his killing of Schultz with a .44 calibre handgun. The state court jury in Media, Pennsylvania, rejected the defense plea that he was innocent by reason of insanity. They also rejected the prosecution's claim that he should get a life sentence for first-degree murder.

John du Pont is a great-great grandson of E. I. Du Pont who built his fortune in the chemical industry. John's share, estimated at up to $250 million, makes him the richest American ever convicted of murder. His wealth was considered a factor in the case. As of last summer he spent $2 million dollars on his defense in comparison with the prosecution who spent $500,000. On the other hand, DuPont's attorney, Taras Wochok,said that John's wealth may have been a negative factor, especially in light of the fact that he once boasted that he could get away with murder.

On April 22, a hearing is set for sentencing. At that time a determination will be made about the type of treatment he may receive for his mental illness. Delaware County District Attorney Patrick Meehan said it was tragic, because du Pont had the resources to get treatment for his schizophrenia.

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