Scott Shollenberger and Kimberly Maurer

Kimberly Maurer, the Annville woman convicted of first-degree murder in the starvation and beating death of her 12-year-old stepson, Max Schollenberger, was sentenced on June 1 to life plus 10 years in prison.

Max lived with Maurer and the boy’s father, Scott Schollenberger, in their Annville home. He was found dead, naked and covered in his feces, in a locked bedroom on the morning of May 26, 2020. His body showed signs of trauma and prolonged malnutrition.

A jury found Maurer guilty of first-degree murder and seven other charges after a six-day trial in March. The charges included counts of criminal conspiracy with Scott Schollenberger to commit first-degree murder and endanger Max.

District Attorney Pier Hess Graf did not seek the death penalty.

Scott Schollenberger pled guilty to first-degree murder in February and is serving a life sentence in state prison.

Standing alone in the courtroom’s jury box, dressed in a green prison jumpsuit, Maurer, 37, had no visible reaction as Lebanon County Judge Bradford Charles imposed the life sentence, which is mandatory under Pennsylvania law. 

Pennsylvania does not allow parole for persons serving life sentences.

Charles imposed the life sentence for the first-degree murder conviction, and added 5- to 10-year sentences for convictions of endangering welfare of children and conspiracy with Scott Schollenberger to endanger Max.

The three sentences will be served consecutively, amounting to an overall sentence of life in prison plus 10 years.

The remaining lesser charges that Maurer was convicted of “merge” with the other three under Pennsylvania law, and cannot be sentenced separately.

Prosecution pathologist Michael Johnson told the jury that the cause of Max’s death was “blunt force head trauma complicating starvation and malnutrition.” Johnson found “old and new” trauma to Max’s head, with a “significant blow to the head” occurring shortly before death.

The boy weighed 47 1/2 pounds at the time of death, only 13 pounds heavier than noted in medical records created when he was 3 years old.

Max Schollenberger (Source: District Attorney’s office)

At trial, witnesses testified that Max had been cut off from human contact and deprived of food and medical care before his death, in contrast to other children in the household who were well-fed and cared for.

Prosecutor Edward McCann described Scott Schollenberger as a “good father” before he met Maurer, whom he called “the architect of isolating Max.” 

Maurer argued at trial that Scott Schollenberger was violent and drank heavily, and that he struck a fatal blow to Max’s head hours before his body was discovered. She also claimed that her ability to seek help for Max was limited because she was not his parent.

Speaking in a barely audible voice before her sentence was announced, Maurer expressed regret and remorse over what happened to Max, in contrast to her her trial testimony, where she steadfastly blamed Scott Schollenberger for Max’s death, and was at times combative with prosecutors cross-examining her.

“It should have been me, not Max. I thought I was doing everything I could to help,” she said. “If you have to call me anything, call me a coward and a failure.”

In his remarks before imposing sentence, Charles strongly rejected any deflection of blame solely onto Scott Schollenberger.

“It seems to me that there is a group of people who blames all this on Scott, and another group who blames it all on Kim,” he said. “Make no mistake, this was both of them. You don’t get years of malnutrition without all of the adults in the house knowing about it.”

Maurer and Scott Schollenberger “tortured Maxwell to death,” Charles added.

Court-appointed defense attorney Andrew Race acknowledged the inevitable mandatory life sentence, but expressed hope that Maurer could “use the rest of her life, in whatever form it takes, to do something positive.”

Hess Graf emphasized the ghastly condition of the room where Max was found and his isolation from the outside world, and told Charles that, despite her excuses, Maurer had plenty of opportunities to get Max help.

Read More: Testimony begins in trial of woman accused of killing 12-year-old stepson

Read More: Prosecution completes its case in trial of woman charged with killing stepson

Read More: Testimony ends in trial of woman accused of killing 12-year-old stepson

Maurer will be transported to the State Correctional Institute in Muncy, which is the diagnostic and classification center for the state’s female inmates. Female prisoners serve sentences at Muncy or at S.C.I. Cambridge Springs.

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...