No-Parole Sentence Thrown Out In Deadly Knife Attack On Parents
PORT HURON (WWJ/AP) - The Michigan appeals court has overturned a no-parole sentence for Tia Skinner, the St. Clair County woman who was convicted of killing her father and attempting to murder her mother.
Skinner’s life sentence will be revisited because the U.S. Supreme Court banned mandatory no-parole sentences for teens convicted of murder. She was 17 at the time of the Nov. 2010 attack. Two others, then 19-year-olds Jonathan Kurtz and James Preston, received similar sentences for their roles in the attack.
Skinner, who’s getting a new hearing because it’s her first appeal since the Supreme Court decision, could get the same sentence — but a judge will be allowed to consider many factors. She previously said she believes 20 years would be a proper sentence for her role in the slaying.
Paul and Mara Skinner were attacked in their home in Yale, 70 miles northeast of Detroit. Paul Skinner, 47, chased masked assailants Kurtz and Preston from the home before he collapsed and died from stab wounds. Mara Skinner was critically injured after suffering more than 25 knife wounds inflicted by Kurtz and Preston.
Police say Tia Skinner planned the murder because she was angry at her parents for taking away her cell phone and for forbidding her to see Kurtz, who was her boyfriend of two-weeks at the time.
Investigators say Tia Skinner drew the map of her neighborhood and a diagram of the Skinner home that led the murderers to the bedroom where her parents were sleeping. Among the instructions she gave Kurtz and Preston were “The later, the better” and “Try to make it look like a break-in gone bad.”
Tia Skinner, who was in the home on the night of the attack, said she’ll never forget the sounds of her father’s screams as her older brother, an emergency room nurse, tried to save him.
“It sounded awful to me, it literally made my heart-break in two to hear my dad like that,” she told The Times Herald. “I think it was just awful I just had a bad temper and I took it out on somebody who didn’t deserve it, somebody who looked after me and took care of me,” she said in a July 2012 interview.
Tia Skinner, who was adopted by the Skinners as a child and is Mara Skinner’s biological niece, said only on the night of the attack did she have second thoughts.
“I just wonder how everything could have been flipped upside down so quick, and I never would have thought I’d be the one to orchestrate something to hurt my family because my family is people I’d protect,” she said in the 2012 interview. “It’s hard losing your whole family in a blink of an eye.”
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