John Skelton pleas 'no contest' 2011.08.03

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

A Morenci man will be sentenced Sept. 15 after pleading “no contest” last week to charges of unlawful imprisonment of his three sons.

John Skelton appeared Thursday morning in Lenawee County Circuit Court and entered a “no contest” plea in an agreement that dismisses the kidnapping charges and instead focuses only on the unlawful imprisonment of his three young sons, Andrew, Alexander and Tanner. The plea also ended the prospect of a trial that Skelton would have faced this week.

Judge Margaret Noe accepted the plea and told attorneys present that she would enter a finding of guilt.

Judge Noe stated that Skelton secretly restrained the boys and confined them in concealment.

“The location of these three children has been and continues to be a secret,” she said.

Skelton will be sentenced to prison for a period of up to 15 years for each child, however, the sentences are served concurrently. Sentencing guidelines will be used in determining his time in prison and will likely result in fewer than 15 years, said Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks.

In a press release written in cooperation with prosecuting attorney Jonathan Poer, Weeks stated that the plea agreement was entered with the support of Skelton’s former wife, Tanya Zuvers, and her family.

“We believe the plea agreement in this case represents what a jury would likely have concluded based upon the facts and evidence as currently developed,” Weeks said, adding that the plea does not interfere with the ongoing investigation.

“We consider this just one more step toward everyone’s goal of fully resolving this case.”

• We apologize for the brief account of this important story. A power outage, the next-door demolition project, no internet service due to a phone line cut in the demolition and other challenges have left us short of time.

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