Missing or murdered: Jurors get Thomas Skeek murder case
The case of an Anchorage man accused of killing his wife went to the jury Friday afternoon.
Jurors in the Thomas Skeek murder trial heard more than two weeks of testimony in the case before the state and defense presented closing arguments.
The state contends Thomas Skeek killed his wife Linda in the early hours of New Year's Day 2016 after an argument. The defense agrees the couple argued, but said Linda Skeek left her home on foot, very much alive, intending to return to area bars. No one has heard from her since.
State prosecutor James Fayette reminded jurors of evidence that supports what he described as a "death struggle" inside the Morningside Loop apartment the couple shared with their two children, and where Fayette said Skeek was murdered.
"The walls of that house are screaming murder," he said.
Fayette pointed out blood evidence on the walls and floor that tested positive for Linda's DNA. He revisited testimony from a neighbor who said she heard Thomas Skeek threaten to kill his wife several months earlier and also reported hearing the couple arguing loudly that night. Fayette showed evidence that someone had tried to clean-up the scene and pointed to photos of bleach and Lysol that Thomas Skeek purchased the day his wife disappeared.
But while the state said Linda Skeek died a violent death, her body has never been found. Defense Attorney Emily Cooper told the jury that Linda had plenty of reasons to walk away that the state had simply ignored.
"Linda had a failing marriage, debts, collections coming to her door, her priorities obviously out of line, and plenty of reason to feel like disappearing," Cooper said.
Cooper painted Linda as a troubled woman in a troubled marriage, where both partners were having affairs. She said Linda had a history of cutting herself and suggested the blood found in the apartment could have come from that.
"This explanation isn't just as reasonable as the state's explanation, this explanation is more reasonable than the state's explanation for why there's blood in the Morningside Loop residence," she said.
But Fayette said it's unlikely that Linda Skeek, who kept in close touch with her large family, would simply disappear.
"It is disingenuous to suggest that Ms. Skeek would walk away from her three children, from her huge supportive and loving family network," Fayette said.
Fayette said it's clear that Linda Skeek isn't coming back because her husband murdered her.
But Cooper said there is plenty of reasonable doubt about whether that statement is true. She reminded jurors that the state is obligated to prove its case, which she said, it had failed to do.
Skeek is charged with first-degree and second-degree murder, plus tampering with evidence. If convicted, he could get up to 99 years in prison.
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