Former Miami Beach cop won't get a retrial on attempted-murder counts but will still do life for armed burglary

lkahn@keynoter.comMay 31, 2014 

A Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputy processes William Skinner following his May 2011 convictions.


A former Miami Beach police officer doing life in prison for a violent attack on his estranged wife in 2009 on Plantation Key won't be retried on charges of attempted murder, Monroe County State Attorney Catherine Vogel said Thursday.

But William Skinner, 58, will remain in state prison serving a life sentence for armed burglary.

"I can't justify" retrying Skinner for attempted murder, Vogel said. "He's not going to get any more time."

Skinner was arrested June 1, 2009, after he fired six shots during a melee with his estranged wife and her boyfriend at a Plantation Key Colony home. The wife's boyfriend survived a bullet wound to his shoulder. The boyfriend was shot as he attempted to hold his front door shut.

Indira Skinner, Skinner's estranged spouse, was choked earlier in the argument with her husband but not hit by gunfire. The Skinners' son, then age 4, was in the house at the time.

Responding Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputies used a stun gun to subdue Skinner when he reportedly reached for another handgun in his car.

In May 2011, an Upper Keys jury in Circuit Court Judge Luis Garcia's courtroom convicted Skinner of two counts of attempted second-degree murder, and one count of armed burglary. Garcia imposed life on one of the attempted-murder charges and on the burglary count, and 15 years on the second attempted-murder count.

However, this past January, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled that errors in the state's standard jury instructions nullified the attempted-murder counts. The court ruled the jury should have been allowed to consider lesser charges of attempted manslaughter.

Skinner, being held at the Dade Correctional Institute in western Miami-Dade County, was due in Garcia's courtroom on June 3 for a hearing to return him to the Keys for retrial on the attempted-murder counts. That now won't happen.

Vogel said the case has been "emotionally traumatic" for the victims.

"Why am I going to force the victims to go through this again and inflict the trauma, and spend all of the tax money?" she said.

The decision was made over the past week as Skinner's latest court date approached, she said.

"Before we incurred the expense and brought him back, we had to make a decision," Vogel said, and that decision is to not put him back on trial.

Does Skinner have any options left to fight the armed-burglary conviction?

"No," the prosecutor said. "It's the end at this point."

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