PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) — 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.