May 27 • 02:18 AM

Daughter among teens charged instabbing death

Prosecuter sas trio of teens planned attack on couple


November 17, 2010
ST. CLAIR COUNTY — Three teens, including the victims' daughter, were arraigned on open murder charges Sunday at the St. Clair County Jail following Friday's double stabbing in the city of Yale.

Tia Skinner, 17 and two 18 year-olds, James Preston and Jonathan Kurtz, of Avoca now face one count each of open murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder as it relates to the early Friday morning attack that left Skinner's father, 47 year-old Paul, dead and her mother, 44 year-old Mara, seriously injured.

Bond for all three defendants was denied by District Judge John Monaghan. They'll appear in court on Nov. 23.

Members of the Preston and Skinner families were present for the arraignment that was broadcast via closed circuit tv to a lobby in the jail. All three defendants appeared in street clothes. Preston openly wept during his arraignment.

Mara Skinner's brother read a prepared statement thanking the community for their support and memorializing Paul Skinner as a loving husband and father.

"Our love and prayers are with Tia. Our hope is that she is innocent of all charges," Marcel Borja, her uncle, said.

"We trust in the Michigan State Police and the judicial system."

Prosecutor Mike Wendling said the trio had allegedly been planning the attack on the girl's parents for a week at the most. The murder of both adults was their goal, he said and all three were equally responsible for the attack.

According to investigators, Tia and an older brother were home when Preston and Kurtz allegedly broke into the home in the 500 block of S. Main St. and stabbed the Skinners in their bedroom just after midnight. Paul Skinner died on scene. Mara Skinner was transported from the scene by ambulance with serious injuries.

Yale Police quickly identified persons of interest in the case and arrested Preston and Kurtz around 10 a.m. on Friday. Later that afternoon, Michigan State Police confirmed a female had also been questioned and lodged at the St. Clair County Jail.

All three defendants will be tried as adults and their cases have been consolidated for the preliminary hearing next week.

"I've never seen anything like this before," Wendling said of the teen's plot to kill her own parents.

"And I hope to never see it again."

Although Wendling said he couldn't comment on a potential motive in the case, state police investigators have said the Skinners reportedly didn't approve of the relationship between their daughter and Kurtz.

Late on Friday, Yale Police requested that investigators from the state police post in Richmond assist with the case. Other departments assisting on scene were the Michigan State Police Crime Lab and Emergency Services Team, St. Clair County Sheriff's Department and K-9 units from the Port Huron Police Department and Sanilac County Sheriff's Department.

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she now resides north of Capac where she enjoys working on the farm, gardening and reading.
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