A Morenci man charged with parental kidnapping waived his right to a hearing in district court and will now be arraigned in Lenawee County Circuit Court Jan. 5.
John Skelton, charged with three counts of parental kidnapping following the disappearance of his three sons last month, was previously arraigned in district court and was scheduled for a preliminary examination yesterday (Tuesday). The hearing was to determine if prosecutors had probable cause to charge him with the crime.
Skelton informed the judge Monday that he would waive the hearing and that moves the process to circuit court for arraignment.
If Skelton pleads not guilty, explained Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks, a trial date will be set. If he pleads guilty, a sentencing date will be declared.
Skelton is charged with keeping his children more than 24 hours—the time frame listed under the parental kidnapping law—with the intent of concealing them from their mother.
The three Skelton children—Andrew, Alexander and Tanner—have not been seen since they were at the Skelton home with their father Thanksgiving Day. Skelton claims he gave the children to someone from an organization, but he’s offered no additional information about his story.
LAWSUIT—The Adrian Daily Telegram reports that television station WDIV from Detroit has filed a lawsuit to force authorities to release search warrant documents relating to the Skelton house.
A lawyer for the television station says a search warrant and tabulation sheets listing items seized in the search should be made public immediately “due to the newsworthy value of the information sought.”
Chief Weeks explained that search warrant documents are generally filed with the court and open to the public.
“However, in sensitive cases,” he said, “the officer requesting the search warrant can file a document with the issuing judge requesting the search warrant and the tabulations be suppressed from public view.”
The Telegram states that Lenawee County District Court Judge James Sheridan responded in a letter that the court is not in a position to verify whether or not a search warrant was issued. Affidavits for search warrants must be non-public for 56 days in order to protect criminal investigations, Sheridan wrote.
WDIV’s attorney claims that no suppression order was filed with the Michigan Supreme Court, as required.