18-Year-Old Guilty Of Murder In Father's Death

Yale Man Fatally Stabbed In Attack; Wife Seriously Wounded

Published On: Oct 02 2011 04:32:07 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 16 2011 05:30:16 AM EDT
PORT HURON, Mich. -

A Michigan woman was found guilty Tuesday of stabbing her father to death.

Tia Skinner, 18, was being tried in St. Clair County Circuit Court on open murder, attempted murder and conspiracy charges. She was found guilty on all three charges.

Paul Skinner was stabbed to death last November. His wife, Mara, was stabbed 26 times.

Prosecutors said Tia Skinner was angry with her parents for forbidding her from seeing Jonathan Kurtz and for confiscating her cellphone after finding texts from him.

Authorities said Kurtz and James Preston broke into the Skinner's home and attacked the couple when Tia Skinner was in the basement watching a movie.

Prosecutor Michael Wendling has said in court that Tia Skinner not only planned the killing and provided knives for it, but that she and her cohorts looked forward to it.

August 10

Mara Skinner and her son, Jeff Skinner, testified in court Wednesday. Mara Skinner gave her emotional and violent description of the attack that left her husband dead and her with more than a dozen stab wounds.

"I didn't know it was a knife, but I felt pounding on my back," Skinner said while her daughter sat listening. "And when I realized I was being attacked, I turned to face them to fight and that's when I realized it was a knife."

The mother called the attack frantic.

"He had stabbed me multiple times in the chest, and I saw the knife at that point, which I had not been able to before," she said. "I grabbed the blade of the knife with my hand and I said, 'Jeff is here.' I was trying to say anything to get them to leave."

Jeff Skinner, who was visiting the home, said he was in the basement with Tia Skinner during the attack and went upstairs when he heard noises and found his parents in the living room. He had said in a previous testimony that Tia Skinner would not come upstairs when he called for her.

"It sounded like ... the best way I can describe it is it sounded like a fridge was coming down the stairs. It was that loud," Jeff Skinner said.

He said when he saw his father that "It looked like someone had painted him red."

Prosecutors brought maps of the neighborhood and home that they say Tia Skinner drew for the killers. The prosecutors also say she laid out several knives in her bedroom for Kurtz and Preston to use.

Kurtz was convicted in June. Preston was convicted last month. They will be sentenced in September.

August 12

Police said the handwritten note allegedly from Tia Skinner was found in Preston's car.

It reads:

"Quick tips. Dogs bark please try not to hurt them. Stairs creak. The later, the better. The best place to park is the abandoned house behind me. The doors do make noise when you open them. Try to make it look like a breakin gone bad. The best door to exit is the sliding door. If you do it earlier prepare for them to be in tv room. I for some reason im not out of house, I will be in my room with music or tv on loud."

August 16

The prosecution rests.

Prosecutors presented text messages from three days prior to the stabbing attack, explaining that they were sent from Tia to Kurtz and Preston. They said the text messages expressed Tia?s concerns over noises while Kurtz and Preston were in the home.

Prosecutors said the afternoon before the attack Tia texted, "I can't wait til tomorrow, wish it could be done tonight. It needs to be done. Tap on my window at 11. Figure they (parents) be upstairs and off the phone."

Prosecutors also said there were texts revealing Kurtz and Preston would be getting paid $1,000 by Tia to "do it". And then about how they will go shopping in Port Huron for clothes, boots and Playstation 3 with games.

The defense chose not to present any witnesses.

Jury goes into deliberations for less than an hour before returning with guilty verdicts for all three counts against Tia Skinner.