Pamela Pike, who stabbed Harbour Round native Jason Skinner to death in Grand Falls-Windsor in 2013, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison this week. She had changed her plea to guilty to manslaughter and a murder-trial was avoided. With time already served, she now has five years left to serve of that sentence.
In a video-recorded message shared publicly by the family, Skinner’s father — for the first time publicly — spoke about the loss of his son and the sentence that was imposed upon Pike.
“I feel that the justice system failed me,” Melvin Skinner said, expressing his disappointment in the Crown attorney’s office for settling on the joint submission of seven and a half years as opposed to more.
At Supreme Court in Grand Falls-Windsor, Justice Donald Burrage accepted the joint submission from the legal teams on behalf of the defence and the Crown. The “plea deal” and joint submission is something the family is disappointed with.
Following the murder of his son four years ago, Skinner says he came back home to Newfoundland and Labrador from Alberta to seek justice not revenge.
“I got neither,” he said last week. “I didn’t get justice, and it is not in my heart for revenge … Me personally, I feel I was stabbed in the back.”
It was a similar message from his sister Mary Ellen Skinner Giles.
“Whatever she gets it will not be what she deserves,” she said before the sentencing decision. “This family got a life sentence on that day, they should get one too.”
Skinner Giles also refused to accept an in-court apology from Pike.
“I don’t know about the rest of the family, but speaking for myself, I would like to say that your apology is not accepted,” she stated in a publicly shared Facebook post. “Forgiving you is like saying what you did was OK, and it wasn’t. That doesn’t mean that I will carry a hatred in my heart. Life is too short for that. It just means I know what you did and you don’t deserve my forgiveness.”
It has been a difficult time for the family, not just because of Skinner’s death, but also due to some of the public response. Skinner had his share of troubles in his life, including a history of drug addiction. His father said he didn’t deserve to die for that, nor should the two women responsible for his death, but he believes they should have been put in jail for much longer.
“They had no right,” he said. “Whatever his life was, it was his to live, not yours to take. Not only take his life, but break my heart.”
He contemplated what type of people will be released after their sentencing concludes.
“After willing to kill for a pill, what do you think they would do for something of value?” he said, wiping away tears. “To me, my son was valued more than anything.”
In media reports following the sentencing, Crown attorney Lori St. Croix defended the joint submission. She said there are risks going to trial and that the sentencing was fair.
“I would rather you swing at the ball and miss than never swing at all,” he said.
According to the agreed statement of facts, Pike and co-accused Wanda Ash were at Skinner’s residence doing drugs the night he died. When Skinner left the house, the two women planned to rob him when he returned. Pike hit him over the head with a glass bottle, hoping to knock him unconscious to get his medication. A fight broke out, during which Pike grabbed a large kitchen knife. Skinner was cut on the head twice and stabbed in the collarbone area — a wound that led to his death.
With the knife still sticking out of his body, he went to his bedroom where police would find him with an empty pill bottle in his hand. He told police Pike stabbed him for his pills. The two women were arrested. Ash was in possession of his medication. Skinner later died in hospital.
“In our hearts, we will always know what they should get, but they are not,” Skinner said of the sentencing.
The broken-hearted father believes there will be appropriate justice in “the next world.”
Ash will be back in court in June for sentencing.