ADRAIN (WWJ/AP) – A man who maintains his three young sons, who have been missing since Thanksgiving, are still alive faces a sentencing hearing Thursday at the Lenawee County Circuit Court.
As WWJ’s Ron Dewey reports, John Skelton pleaded no contest to unlawful imprisonment in exchange for prosecutors dropping kidnapping charges.
Skelton faces up to 15 years in prison in the Thanksgiving 2010 disappearance of Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton, who were 9, 7 and 5 when they disappeared. The boys were last seen at Skelton’s home in Morenci, 70 miles southwest of Detroit near the Ohio state line.
The boys had gone to stay with Skelton for Thanksgiving under an agreement with his then-estranged wife, Tanya Skelton, who had exclusive custody of the children. He was supposed to return the boys to their mother after the holiday. Skelton has told police and a judge that the boys were given to an organization, but investigators don’t believe him. The Skeltons are now divorced.
Judge Margaret Noe said in July thay investigative reports by the FBI and Michigan State Police showed that Skelton had unlawfully taken the boys.
Skelton acknowledged that he still could face more charges in the future.
“They can still charge you with homicide,” defense lawyer John Glaser told his client in court at the time of the no contest plea, which is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.
In court, Judge Margaret Noe has said she read investigative reports by the FBI and Michigan State Police. She said the reports show Skelton unlawfully took the boys.
Skelton said in a television interview that his plea was the only way he could get out from behind bars and get the boys back.
WWJ’s Ron Dewey will be at the Adrian courthouse for the proceedings. Stay with WWJ and CBSDetroit.com for the latest.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.