Tia Skinner was seventeen when she orchestrated the murder of her father and attempted murder of her mother in Michigan. According to court documents Tia Skinner was upset that her parents did not approve of her boyfriend so she planned their murders. On the night of the attack Tia Skinner would convince her boyfriend and another man to attack her parents and they would stab her father to death and her mother was stabbed numerous times but would survive the brutal assault. Tia Skinner would be convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole, the two attackers would receive the same sentence. This teen killer has been up for resentencing three times however her sentence has not changed.
Tia Skinner 2020 Information
Name:TIA MARIEMITCHELL SKINNER
Date of Birth:12/08/1992 (27)
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A former honors student who was convicted of plotting to have her father stabbed to death when she was 17 years old was sentenced Thursday to life in a Michigan prison without parole — the same punishment she first received in 2011.
Tia Skinner returned to court after a U.S. Supreme Court decision barred mandatory no-parole sentences for youths under 18 convicted of first-degree murder. A St. Clair County judge was free to give Skinner a shot at parole but settled again on a sentence that means she’ll never leave prison.
“Justice demands that you serve not one day less,” Judge Daniel Kelly said.
Skinner was just a month shy of her 18th birthday in late 2010 when two young men attacked her parents in their bed in Yale, 85 miles northeast of Detroit. Paul Skinner was stabbed to death, while Mara Skinner survived 26 stab wounds.
The evidence showed that Tia Skinner orchestrated the attack because she was upset at her parents’ disapproval of her boyfriend, a 19-year-old man who was also convicted in the killing. She left a window open and a ladder outside the house. She drew a map of the neighborhood, used text messages to communicate with the killers and chose knives.
“Tia was the architect of the plan,” the judge said.
Skinner, now 20, said she was sorry for what happened and acknowledged she could have stopped the attack.
“I am the coward that everyone says I am,” she told Kelly.
Mara Skinner was in court but did not speak. Three relatives, however, urged the judge to show no mercy during emotional statements that seemed to be aimed more at Tia Skinner than the judge.
“How did that knife feel — foot-long and an inch-and-a half wide? You didn’t just bring a paring knife,” said an uncle, Ken Skinner.
“We’re together. You’re not. You’re out,” he said of the family. “You shouldn’t see no light at the end of the tunnel.”
Kelly said the Supreme Court struck down automatic no-parole sentences for teenagers because it felt that vulnerable, immature young people deserved a thorough hearing and shouldn’t be treated the same as adults. But the nation’s top court still didn’t remove the possibility of life without parole.
Defense attorney John Livesay called the attack “egregious” and “incomprehensible” but said Skinner otherwise had a spotless life and deserved a chance at freedom.
The judge, however, said she didn’t suffer from the disadvantages experienced by other kids who don’t comprehend the consequences of committing crimes.
At the time, Skinner was a high school senior soon to be accepted to Western Michigan University. She was active in her church and performed in the school band. Paul and Mara Skinner adopted her after her birth by a prison inmate.
“She was not affected by peer pressure. She was not a follower,” the judge said.
The two young men also convicted of first-degree murder weren’t under 18 and aren’t entitled to a new sentence.
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Tia Skinner’s case was again in front of court of appeals judges, but this time to weigh in on the trial judge’s discretion in sentencing the teen killer.
Previously, the appeals court and state supreme court ruled on whether it should be the judge or a jury that can hand out a life sentence without parole to an offender who was a juvenile at the time of the crime. Ultimately, the state supreme court ruled a judge does have the ability to do so.
St. Clair County Circuit Judge Daniel Kelly has sentenced Skinner to life in prison without parole three times, each hearing following decisions regarding youth lifers in the higher courts.
Hilary Georgia, St. Clair County assistant prosecutor, said the latest ruling was encouraging, as it upheld the sentence and affirmed a greater reach of victim-impact statements and didn’t require prosecution to meet a burden of proof.
Skinner was found guilty by a jury of first-degree premeditated murder and attempted murder in August 2011.
Officials have said she was the architect of an attack on her parents as they slept in their Yale home in Nov. 12, 2010. Paul Skinner died after chasing two men with knives from his home. His wife, Mara, survived.
Jonathan Kurtz and James Preston, who were both over 18 at the time, were sentenced to life in prison without parole.
During their three separate trials, jurors were shown a map of the house and neighborhood made for the men by Skinner, as well as a list of tips. They were also presented with evidence that Skinner had left the knives to be used in the attack on her bed, had cut the screen in her window for their entry and even left a step-ladder for easy entry.
“The evidence showed that defendant was intricately involved in the plot to kill her parents. She formulated the idea and took steps to facilitate the killings. She drew a map to help direct her co-defendants to her parents and she took action to prevent her brother Jeffrey, a trauma nurse, from rendering aid,” the appeals court opinion states. “She sent text messages to the co-defendants leading up to the attack. Defendant agreed that she had an opportunity to stop the attacks before they happened, but she did not do so.”
Georgia said a highlight in the opinion was the court allowing for victim statements from individuals who are not technically victims under the Crime Victims Rights Act.
“I think that’s good news for victims,” she said, adding so much focus is being put on the defendants in the youth lifer cases.
Many of those cases are waiting on the Skinner case to play out, as it is setting precedence for future cases.
Georgia said the prosecutor’s office has not scheduled re-sentencing in any of the other St. Clair County juvenile lifer cases.
“There hasn’t been any push from the defense to get those on the docket,” she said.
Jimmy Porter was 16 when he killed Bette Giuliani and her four children in Brockway Township in 1982.
Raymond Carp was 15 at the time he helped his brother kill a Casco Township woman in 2006.
Mike Hills was 17 and one of six men charged with killing Ryan Rich in 2005.
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