Man convicted in Schiller killing receives life sentence

Julia Spitz

Wearing a dark jacket, gray slacks, handcuffs and ankle chains, James Brescia stood next to his lawyer Friday morning to hear the order he spend the rest of his life in prison.

Brescia was not in court Tuesday when a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy for planning the execution of Ed Schiller of Framingham two years ago in Newton.

The 47-year-old Waltham resident suffered a stroke early last Friday morning, prior to cross-examination, said his attorney, J.W. Carney Jr., and was hospitalized when the guilty verdict came in.

First-degree murder convictions are automatically appealed to the state Supreme Judicial Court, but Carney has said he also plans to seek a new trial based on his client's medical incapacitation on the last day of testimony.

Carney said Brescia's stroke caused him to appear unfocused and confused when cross-examined by prosecutor Adrienne Lynch on June 20. Brescia complained of a headache at the start of his testimony that day in Middlesex Superior Court.

Lynch asked Friday that taped footage of Brescia's testimony on June 19 and 20 be preserved.

Brescia was sentenced to MCI-Cedar Junction to serve life without possibility of parole for the murder conviction. He also received an 18- to 20- year concurrent sentence for conspiracy to commit murder.

Before Brescia was taken from the court to begin his prison sentence, Ed Schiller's family spoke about what was stolen from them on Jan. 13, 2006.

"My brother Ed was 39 when his life was cut short," said Carl Schiller, who addressed the court. His wife, Meredith, and his parents, Fred and Christine Schiller, stood behind him.

"It's been like slowly being cut in half," having Ed taken from him, said Carl Schiller.

"My first memory of Ed was taking my first steps as a baby," when his only sibling was holding out his hand to Carl.

Ed loved fishing, riding his motorcycle and listening to the Grateful Dead, his brother said.

"He loved to dance" and "loved to go barefoot.

"He had a passion for living life to the fullest."

His brother was a good friend, and "in so many ways, Ed was my compass," said Carl Schiller. He was a wonderful uncle to Carl's eldest daughter, Lillian, and never got the chance to see his twin niece and nephew, Carl Schiller said.

"My family and I are now all homicide survivors. We feel the pain every day. ... Ed was stolen from us. It's the first thing we think of in the morning, the last thing we think of at night."

And while the family is happy with the verdict, "finding James Brescia guilty in this courtroom ... does not bring Ed back to us."

Brescia did not speak at the sentencing, and had no visible reaction to Carl Schiller's statements.

Brescia's mother, Stella, who testified during the trial, was not in the courtroom Friday. Neither was Stacey Rock, Brescia's ex-wife who had been dating Ed Schiller.

Prosecutors said Ed Schiller's relationship with Rock was what motivated Brescia to come up with the murder-for-hire plot.

Rock and Schiller had been sweethearts at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in the mid-1980s. They dated for several years, and at one point lived together. Rock later married Brescia and had three children with him.

Rock said she initially started divorce proceedings in 2003, but the couple later reconciled. She said by June 2005, "I just couldn't do it anymore," so she contacted a lawyer and served Brescia with divorce papers in July 2005.

Rock, who was living in Marlborough, and Schiller began dating again that summer.

In August 2005, Schiller's accused killer, Scott Foxworth, was released from prison after serving time for gun possession. He had previously been convicted of killing a man in 1978.

Foxworth had dated a woman who worked with Brescia at Raytheon in Andover. It was their mutual ties to Nancy Campbell that brought Foxworth and Brescia into contact, according to trial testimony.

Prosecutors produced records of 64 phone calls between Foxworth and Brescia in the months before the murder, as well as payments Brescia made to Foxworth.

Brescia said he paid Foxworth $1,000 to have Foxworth tell Schiller to stay away from Brescia's children. Prosecutors put the figure at closer to 10 times that amount to kill Schiller.

Foxworth, of Dracut, is accused of shooting Schiller in a Newton garage near Aronson Insurance Agency, where Schiller worked.

"We understand that our job is not done," District Attorney Gerry Leone said in a statement yesterday afternoon. "We have another trial ahead against the man who we allege shot and killed Ed. I can assure you that our team will be ready."

Foxworth's trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 22.

Julia Spitz can be reached at 508-626-3968 or