John Skelton was back in circuit court last week, but only for a couple of minutes before the session was adjourned.
Skelton, 39, of Morenci, was ordered to appear in Lenawee County Circuit Court Feb. 9 for a hearing in connection with three counts of parental kidnapping after his three sons disappeared on Thanksgiving.
Skelton claims that Andrew, 9, Alexander, 7, and Tanner, 5, are with an organization that he refuses to name.
Although Skelton appeared in court Jan. 28 regarding a custody charge, this was his first appearance in the criminal kidnapping case. He waived a preliminary examination on Dec. 26 and filed a waiver of arraignment in January.
An adjournment was requested last Wednesday morning by Skelton’s public defender, John Glaser, and Lenawee County Prosecutor Jonathan Poer agreed with the request. No reason for delay was given.
Skelton was ordered back in court Feb. 23. A trial date might be set at that time or another adjournment could be requested.
Skelton is to return to circuit court March 18 as he continues to face contempt of court charges for failing to return his boys to their mother, Tanya, as specified in a visitation agreement. The couple is seeking a divorce.
In court Jan. 28, Judge Margaret Noe noted that she signed an order in late November to give Tanya Skelton exclusive parenting time.
“I would ask at this time, Mr. Skelton, if you are prepared to turn the children over to their mother pursuant to my order of Nov. 29,” she said.
After a brief conversation with his attorney, Skelton said, “I can’t.”
Judge Noe said the custody case is further complicated by the criminal kidnapping proceeding. She announced that she will suspend and postpone further action in the contempt case while the criminal matter is monitored.
Glaser stated that he didn’t realize he was to represent Skelton in the divorce issue and he preferred to represent him only in the contempt case.
After that, the judge asked questions directly to Skelton. Skelton said that he and his wife already split the property.
Addressing Tanya Skelton’s attorney, David McFarland, the judge asked, “Do you agree that all personal property and real estate is resolved and not an issue?”
It’s still an issue that needs to be resolved at a later date, McFarland answered.
A review and pretrial hearing was scheduled at 8:15 a.m. March 18 to continue to monitor progress on the criminal matter and its effect, if any, on the civil proceeding. Skelton will then represent himself without an attorney.
Skelton questioned details of the form he was asked to sign, stating that he did not want to pay his wife’s legal fees and alimony.
“Mr. McFarland, is your client asking for spousal support?” the judge asked.
“Your honor, there are more important issues to discuss at this trial,” he answered.