This morning, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tony Hazel sentenced 77-year-old Merlyn R. Schmelzer to 93 months (7 years, 9 months) and up to life in prison. On April 2, 2019, Schmelzer pled guilty to one count of Child Rape 1st Degree in Spokane County Superior Court.
Schmelzer was facing a standard sentencing range of 93-123 months in prison minimum but was also eligible for a sex offender sentencing alternative, SOSSA. Superior Court Judge Hazel heard statements from the victim and her family who opposed the SOSSA option.
The Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) Indeterminate Sentence Review Board will review this case and determine if Schmelzer is suitable for release after the 93 months have passed.
If released from prison, will be on lifetime DOC supervision and must register as a sex offender for life.
Press Release from April 2, 2019:
Suspect Pleads Guilty to Child Rape 1st Degree
This morning, 77-year-old Merlyn R. Schmelzer plead guilty to one count of Child Rape 1st Degree in Spokane County Superior Court with Superior Court Judge Tony Hazel presiding. Schmelzer is being held in the Spokane County Jail and faces a standard minimum sentencing range of 93-123 months and up to life in prison.
The sexual abuse involved a young female victim, known to Schmelzer, and reportedly began in 2011. The sexual abuse continued over several years, occurring in three counties in Washington State.
The investigation began in the later months of 2016 when the victim reported the crime and involved several law enforcement agencies.
In July of 2018, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Sexual Assault Unit (SAU) Detective Brandon Armstrong and Detective Rob Satake contacted Schmelzer and conducted an interview where Schmelzer admitted to sexually abusing the victim. Schmelzer was arrested and booked into the Spokane County Jail for Rape of a Child 1st Degree.
The investigation continued with Detectives from Spokane County SAU, Kittitas County, Stevens County and with the assistance of Spokane Police Detectives, all working together to aid this young victim, who found the courage to come forward and report the sexual abuse, receive justice.
This case was prosecuted by Spokane County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Love.
Today’s guilty plea is a global resolution to this lengthy investigation, involving several law enforcement agencies in Washington State and spares the victim from the need to recount the sexual abuse while giving testimony in open court.
Corporal Mark Gregory
Spokane County Sheriff’s Office
Spokane Valley Police Department
Public Information Officer