Jury indicts Skinner for kids’ drowning

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Shelby County Grand Jury has indicted a Georgia woman on two counts of manslaughter in connection with the deaths of her 5-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son.

In July of this year, Hoover Police investigated the cause of an accident in which two children drowned when the car they were riding in plunged into the Cahaba River.

According to Shelby County Coroner Doug Ballard Jr., when the children were found several hours after the car went into the water, Ashlyn Skinner, 5, was still buckled in her seatbelt and 18-month-old Bryson Skinner was still in his carseat.

He said Chief Deputy Coroner Kyle McDonnell and Deputy Coroner J. Wilson pronounced the children dead at the scene.

Media reports at the time indicate that a 2002 BMW sedan plunged into the Cahaba River. The children’s mother, Brandee Skinner was pulled from the river shortly after she said the car veered off U.S. Highway 31 northbound into the river.

Skinner said at the time she managed to swim away but the car was washed down the Cahaba River with the children inside.

Skinner and her husband, Reagan Skinner, reside on Mountain Laurel Court in Riverchase.

The case was heard by the November 2005 session of Shelby County Grand Jury.

Shelby County Chief Assistant District Attorney Bill Bostick announced the indictment of Brandon &uot;Brandee&uot; Leigh Whitaker Skinner, 30, during a press conference held Friday at the Shelby County Courthouse.

He said Skinner turned herself in and had been arrested within an hour of the 1 p.m. press conference. She was released on $50,000 bond.

Bostick said the bond was $25,000 for each count.

Bostick who will prosecute the case along with Shelby County District Attorney Robby Owens commended Hoover Police and investigators.

He said in a press release, &uot;Because this case involved the deaths of two children, it warranted a full investigation, and I commend the Hoover Police Department and the members of the Grand Jury for giving us exactly that.

&uot;Their investigation resulted in these indictments, which charge that Ms. Skinner engaged in conduct that created a substantial and unjustified risk of death to her children, that she was aware of that risk and that she consciously disregarded it.&uot;

Bostick said the charges could carry a sentence of two to 20 years for each of the two counts. Bostick said the case would have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Bostick indicated that if mental condition is going to be an issue in the case, it would have to be raised by the defendant. He also said the defendant is allowed to return to Georgia.

When asked, Bostick said of Skinner’s husband, &uot;He is very emotional about the decision. It is not a pleasant day for him.&uot;

He said a plea would be entered the first of December or early January