Troutman Pleads Guilty To Murder Of Skyler Kauffman
Prosecutors agree not to seek death penalty in exchange for guilty plea
According to published reports, James Lee Troutman pleaded guilty to the murder of 9-year-old Skyler Kauffman during a Monday morning hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown.
Troutman also pleaded guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, kidnapping and abuse of corpse, and has been sentenced to life in prison by Judge William R. Carpenter.
Though Troutman was originally facing the death penalty, prosecutors agreed to drop a capital pursuit in exchange for the guilty plea. The plea agreement was struck late in the day on Friday, March 16, according to 6ABC.
"[The defense] indicated that he as willing to plead guilty to the charges, to all of the charges, and accept life in prison," said District Attorney Risa Ferman, in a report by 6ABC.
According to the 6ABC news report, Ferman agreed to the plea deal only after consulting with the family of Skyler Kauffman.
"Certainly, they know what he did. But, to hear it repeated in graphic detail over and over again doesn't serve their purposes. And, what they expressed to me was they wanted Skyler to rest in peace," said Ferman.
Ferman added that while it is the end of the legal case, it's not the end for the family.
"It's certainly not over for them," said Ferman, to 6ABC. "Skyler is never coming back and they know that. They are living with that for the rest of their lives."
A report by the Montgomery County Medical Examiner would later reveal that the cause of death was asphyxia and blunt force trauma, and that the 9-year-old had been raped prior to her death.
Though initially confessing to the killing, Troutman would later plead not-guilty to all charges.
Having changed his plea again, Troutman now will serve the remainder of his life in prison.
"Any time that I can save a client's life, I will take it," said Craig Penglase, Troutman's attorney, in a report by the Courier Times. "That was the goal in this case."
The Courier Times article also quotes Penglase as saying that Troutman had wanted to plead guilty all along.
"He's admitted his guilt. He doesn't know if he can survive the rigors of a trial. He's been an emotional wreck since his incarceration. He doesn't want to put his own family or the victim's family through a trial," said Penglase, in the Courier Times article.
According to 6ABC, Penglase said that Troutman had received treatment in psychiatric facilities for sexually deviant behavior since he was 5-years old, but when Troutman turned 18-years-old, the facilities could no longer keep him and he was returned to society.
"I have a client, who, the first time I meet him, says a 'monster has done this,'" said Criag Penglase, defense attorney to 6ABC news. "And you come to realize he is talking about himself. He is really just got this mental state that he can't believe what he's done, and he had to get through that in order to come to that conclusion."
In a statement made to 6ABC, the Kauffman family thanked Troutman for taking responsibility in court. Troutman's mother and two sisters were in the courtroom, but left without commenting.
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