MAYVILLE - A plea deal has been reached with one of the four men accused of being responsible for a double homicide in the town of Carroll last year.
David Foley, Chautauqua County district attorney, said Steven Todd of Elmira has pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree manslaughter and will testify against the other defendants. Foley said the agreement was reached about a month ago with the defendant.
"He has pleaded guilty to two manslaughters in the first degree in regard to his participation in this burglary and subsequent killings of Gordan and Joyce Skinner," Foley said.
"The plea is contingent with his continued cooperation during the prosecution of the remaining defendants," Foley continued.
The district attorney also said Todd will see a considerable amount of state prison time, but will not face a life sentence for his involvement in the crime.
"He will spend decades in state prison for this," Foley said.
"He will spend decades in state prison for this."
Chautauqua County district attorney
The defendants - Davide Coggins, Joshua McCormick, Ricky Knickerbocker and Todd - are accused of taking the lives of Gordon and Joyce Skinner on April 17, 2013, after invading the couple's home on Wheeler Hill Road in the town of Carroll. It is alleged that Gordon, 66, and Joyce, 59, were stabbed before having their home set on fire. A motive for the homicides has yet to be made public.
Foley said from the start of the case, the District Attorney's office has had discussions with attorneys for the defendants in regard to having them cooperate and become state witnesses. He said they also had support from the victim's family in reaching a deal with the defendants.
"We had multiple discussions with them (the family) in regard to where we were at and what we wanted to do to be successful ... so they were on board," Foley said.
Last month, the trial for the four Elmira men was pushed back to give the prosecution and defense more time to consolidate their cases. The court case had originally been scheduled to start March 11. Although a new trial date was not scheduled, the defense succeeded in getting one of the defendants - Coggins - separated from the others and granted an individual trial scheduled to start Sept. 16.
Coggins and McCormick were indicted by a Chautauqua County grand jury on first-degree murder. Due to his age at the time of the homicides, Knickerbocker is facing a second-degree murder charge. The men are also facing burglary and arson charges.