In a move yesterday that surprised even Judge Bradford Charles, the father of Maxwell Schollenberger, the 12-year old boy found beaten and starved to death in a filthy, darkened and locked bedroom of his family’s Annville township home in May of 2020 pleaded guilty to first degree murder, plus three other related charges.
43-year old Scott Schollenberger, Jr. was immediately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
He had been charged in September of 2020, along with his longtime live-in girlfriend, 36-year old Kimberly Maurer for Maxwell’s death. The pair was expected to go to trial next month. Yesterday’s hearing was only supposed to be a pre-trial conference regarding trial readiness.
However, Chief Public Defender Brian Deiderick said Schollengerger decided to do the right thing for Maxwell, and accept his share of responsibility for his son’s death.
In addition to 1st degree murder, he pleaded guilty to one count of endangering the welfare of children and single counts of conspiracy to commit homicide and conspiracy endangering the welfare of children, for which he was sentenced to between 10 and 40 years each to run concurrent with his life sentence.
District Attorney Pier Hess Graf said the torture Maxwell endured, primarily at the hands of Maurer, could not have occurred without Schollenberger knowing what was happening. She said the autopsy showed that Maxwell was first under-fed for a long period of time, then eventually starved to the point that he was too weak to stand or digest food, had he been given any. He only weighed about 42 pounds at the time of his death.
Schollenberger told Judge Charles he was “going to live day by day with this. It’ll never go away. Never.”
But Charles countered, saying Maxwell was treated like a “rabid animal put in a cage. Not like a child, not like a human being.”
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Schollenberger must also testify against Kimberly Maurer, who is still planning to go to trial next month, according to her defense attorney, Andrew Race.
Forever Lebanon Valley was the only media outlet in court yesterday for the proceedings.