An ex-Miami Beach cop sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for attempting to murder his estranged wife and her boyfriend during a rampage at the man's Plantation Key home has been granted a new trial, according to appellate court records.
But Monroe County State Attorney Catherine Vogel is asking the Florida Attorney General's Office to clarify the ruling as the matter could be in conflict with other appellate case law, she said Friday.
William Thomas Skinner was given two life terms to be served concurrently on counts of burglary of a dwelling while armed and attempted second-degree murder in June 2011 stemming from the 2009 shooting.
The 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that jurors were read erroneous jury instructions, that attorneys failed to object and therefore Skinner should be granted a new trial, according to court records.
The central issue is a Florida Supreme Court decision that dealt with jury instructions for the lesser charge of manslaughter, which the court ruled were flawed.
Skinner lost a previous appeal in October 2012, but "the issue of whether the Florida jury instruction on manslaughter constituted fundamental error had not yet been decided," records state.
"Skinner correctly argues that he is entitled to relief on the attempted manslaughter jury instruction issue," the court ruled. "The trial court committed fundamental error when it gave the standard jury instruction on attempted murder."
An interesting twist to the case could arise as Vogel's office may choose to not retry Skinner on the attempted murder charge as he is already serving life on the included burglary with a gun charge. In other words, it may not be a cost-effective use of taxpayer money to retry the case when Skinner is already serving life on the lesser burglary charge.
That has yet to be ironed out, Vogel said.
"He already got a life sentence on the burglary, so if that stands, we may be in a position where we have to decide if it's worth it for us to retry the attempted murder (charge)," Vogel said. "So, we'll have to think about it. The (3rd DCA) decision is not final until 30 days have passed."
On June 1, 2009, Skinner got into his car at his Key Largo home, with two guns in tow, and drove 14 miles south to the Plantation Key home where his estranged wife, Indira Skinner, was living with their 5-year-old son, Luke, according to police reports.
After confronting Indira at the door and trying to strangle her, Skinner returned to his car, grabbed the more powerful of the two guns and attempted to force his way in while shooting through and around the door at Indira and her boyfriend, Jesus Revulcaba.
When he ran out of bullets, he grabbed a heavy wooden stick and pounded Revulcaba on the head, reports state.
Prosecutors said he fired five shots at Indira and Revulcaba. One shot struck Revulcaba in the shoulder.
Police found Revulcaba lying in a pool of blood when they arrived that morning. He was airlifted to a Miami hospital and survived the wound.
Skinner worked as a Miami Beach police officer for 23 years before retiring in 2003 in good standing with the rank of captain.
A Plantation Key jury deliberated for about five hours before handing down two second-degree attempted murder convictions against Skinner last month, as well as one conviction for armed burglary because he forced entry into the home while carrying his .357 Smith Wesson revolver.
In an unrelated matter, Skinner's new wife alleged in an August that the Monroe County State Attorney's Office violated Florida's public records law in what both sides later described as an administrative error, according to a lawsuit filed in state court.
Meg Florian filed a lawsuit against Vogel and her office asking a judge to force the Keys' top prosecutor to turn over the full investigative file on Skinner's case, which Vogel did without a court order.
That case is no longer on the court docket, according to county clerk of court records.