Skinner due back in court at end of month

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Shelby County Chief Assistant District Attorney Bill Bostick said he expects Brandee Skinner, the Georgia woman indicted this past November in connection with the drowning deaths of her two children to be back in court Jan. 30.

He said Skinner recently showed up for an arraignment without an attorney. He said the judge gave her time to hire an attorney or to apply for assistance through the Shelby County Public Defender&8217;s office.

Bostick announced the indictment of Brandon &8220;Brandee&8221; Leigh Whitaker Skinner, 30, during a press conference Nov. 18 at the Shelby County Courthouse.

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

In July 2005, Hoover Police investigated the cause of an accident in which the two children drowned when the car they were riding in plunged off of Highway 31 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, 5, was still buckled in her seatbelt and 18-month-old Bryson was still in his car seat.

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

Media reports at the time indicated that a 2002 BMW Sedan plunged into the river.

The children&8217;s mother, Brandee Skinner, had been 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 river with the children inside.

Skinner and her husband, Reagan Skinner, resided on Mountain Laurel Court in Riverchase at the time of the incident.

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

Bostick said Skinner turned herself in and had been arrested within an hour of the 1 p.m. indictment press conference in November. She was released on $50,000 bond, $25,000 for each count, at that time.

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, &8220;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.

&8220;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.&8221;

Bostick said the charges could carry a sentence of two to 20 years for each of the two counts.

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