ADRIAN, Mich. - A Michigan man suspected of killing his three young sons, who have been missing since visiting his home on Thanksgiving, was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison yesterday - a punishment that will keep him behind bars while police pursue murder charges.
Before hearing the sentence, John Skelton told Lenawee Circuit Court Judge Margaret Noe that he has cried every day since he last saw his sons. He and his former wife were going through a bitter divorce and she had been granted sole custody of the boys; Skelton insists that he gave them to a group to protect them from their mother, although he has refused to identify the group.
Skelton told Noe that he would have acted differently had the system not failed him.
Noe sentenced him to 10 to 15 years in prison, a stiffer penalty than the 4 to 12 years the state recommends for the unlawful imprisonment charge he pleaded no contest to in July. She called Skelton’s version of events ridiculous, and admonished him for putting his former wife and the community through the agony of not knowing what befell the children.
Skelton maintains that he didn’t harm the children and he agreed to the no contest plea, which is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes, in exchange for prosecutors dropping a charge of parental kidnapping.