Is Tia Skinner Still In Prison In 2019? She's Been Re-Sentenced Four Times
The March 18 episode of Oxygen's Snapped: Killer Couples examines the case of Tia Skinner, who was convicted in 2011 for the murder of her father and the attempted murder of her mother for a 2010 knife attack at their Michigan home, as reported by Mlive. According to CBS Detroit, Skinner pled not guilty during her 2010 trial, but has since expressed remorse for her role in the crime.
"It literally made my heart break in two to hear my dad like that," she told The Times Herald in 2012, per CBS Detroit. "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." Though she has been up for re-sentencing several times, Skinner is still in prison; her life sentence was upheld as recently as November 2018, according to The Times Herald.
As reported by CBS Detroit, Skinner was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to murder along with then-19-year-olds Jonathan Kurtz and James Preston, who she directed to stab her mother and father. According to the outlet, investigators said that Skinner drew a map of her neighborhood that led Kurtz and Preston to her house, instructing them to "make it look like a break-in gone bad." Investigators further claimed Skinner was angry at her parents for taking away her phone and not allowing her to see Kurtz, who she'd been dating for two weeks. Her mother was stabbed upwards of 20 times but survived, while her father died. Skinner, Kurtz, and Preston all received life sentences without parole.
Skinner was 17 — a minor — at the time of the attack. According to the Detroit Free Press, the Supreme Court ruled in a 2012 case that life in prison without the possibility of parole for minors was "cruel and unusual punishment." It was determined that such sentences couldn't be given without considering the defendant's home environment, maturity level, and involvement in the crime, among other factors.
The Detroit Free Press reported that because of this, Skinner's case was re-opened to see if she deserved a lesser sentence, but a judge ruled in both 2013 and 2014 that she should still be sentenced to life without parole. In 2015, her case was remanded for sentencing a fourth time because the Michigan Court Appeals determined that prosecutors needed to prove to a jury — not a judge — that Skinner's crime was reflective of "irreparable corruption."
At the time, the Detroit Free Press stated that Skinner's lawyer planned to ask the jury for a 25 to 60 year sentence rather than a lifelong one. That would have seen Skinner released somewhere between her 40s and 80s. But according to The Detroit News, the Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that the ability to order no-parole sentences for minors was still up to judges, not juries. And so in 2018, Skinner's life sentence was affirmed for the fourth time.
According to inmate records, Skinner, Kurtz, and Preston all remain in Michigan prisons as of 2019, serving out their life sentences. Kurtz and Preston were never eligible for re-sentencing because they were over 18 at the time of the crime, according to CBS Detroit. After her many attempts to be re-sentenced, Skinner is still not eligible for parole. Her inmate file shows that she is now 26 and resides at the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility.
Kurtz is now 27 and living at Baraga Maximum Facility; Preston is 26 and located at Muskegon Correctional Facility. You can learn more about their story in Monday's Snapped: Killer Couples episode, which will feature dramatic re-enactments as well as interviews with people who knew them before the attack.