Skinner to face jury trial

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

The woman, who in February made national headlines by allegedly shooting herself in the stomach to end her full-term pregnancy, will be tried by a jury this fall.

Tammy W. Skinner, 23, pleaded not guilty to illegally inducing an abortion during her arraignment in Suffolk Circuit Court on Thursday. She was indicted on the felony charge through a sealed grand jury indictment on June 28.

That indictment was handed down weeks after a Suffolk General District Court judge cleared Skinner of the charge during her May preliminary hearing. The lower court supported defense attorney Kevin Martingayle’s argument that Virginia’s laws relating to inducing an abortion refer only to third parties involved in the act.

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Despite Skinner’s request for a bench trial, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Marie Walls, who is prosecuting the case, asked for a jury trial.

Prosecutors asked for the jury trial because Skinner’s case is one of such “community importance,” Walls said.

State law requires both parties involved in a legal dispute to agree to a bench trial. If either party objects, the case

is handed over to a jury.

Martingayle, who said he learned Thursday morning that prosecutors would be requesting a jury trial, said it would make the case more challenging. However, he is hoping the case will be tossed out before it ever makes it to trial.

Martingayle said he intends to file a motion to dismiss the case by the end of August, citing similar cases in Florida and Georgia that he used in his preliminary hearing motion.

“To me, those cases are indistinguishable from this one,” he said. “…Right now, we are zeroed in on … having it (the case) kicked out.”

Also on Monday, General District Court Judge Richard Savage ordered Skinner to pay $1,464 to cover the cost of the police investigation.

Neither Skinner nor her family members would comment after Thursday’s hearing, referring all questions to Martingayle.

Skinner, according to police reports, called authorities from a North Main Street car dealership on Feb. 23 n the day her baby was due n and said she had been carjacked and shot in the stomach. Several days later, she was arrested for shooting herself in the stomach and killing her unborn daughter.