Missing or murdered: Jury finds Thomas Skeek not guilty on all counts
After seven weeks of trial and three days of deliberation, an Anchorage jury found Thomas Skeek not guilty of murdering his wife Linda Skeek in 2016.
Skeek was accused of killing his wife in their Anchorage apartment early New Year's morning after an argument. Her body has never been found.
State prosecutor James Fayette wouldn't speculate on the jury's verdict, which cleared Skeek of all counts, except to say the state knew the case would be a difficult one to try from the start.
"This was the first 'no body' case to be tried in Anchorage in almost 30 years, so everyone knew that it was a hard case," Fayette said.
He said the police department and the prosecution team immersed themselves in the case, spending seven weeks on testimony and interviewing 30 witnesses.
"In our view, the case was presented as professionally as it could be," he said.
Thomas Skeek has been in custody for the last three years. The jury's verdict brought a hug from his defense attorney, Emily Cooper, who was also tearing up. Outside the courtroom, Cooper said she'd gotten to know Thomas Skeek well over the course of the long trial and fought hard for him. She said part of the jury's verdict may have come from the unanswered questions in the case, including whether Linda Skeek, whom no one has heard from since that night, may still be alive.
Cooper said she knows the family is still grieving over their missing daughter.
"In my heart, I think Thomas is innocent and I hope that they can find closure as they move forward and I do wish them the best," she said.
Linda's mother, Laura Sheldon, wailed when she heard the verdict. She, along with Linda's aunt Myrna Brown, were in the courtroom almost every day. In an interview afterward, Brown said closure would be difficult for the family especially without a guilty verdict.
"Because we all know she's gone. In our hearts, we all know she's gone. She's never coming back," Brown said. "So I just wish and hope other families don't have to go through what ours has gone through."
Brown said she hoped one day Linda's remains would be found and the case would be re-opened. She added that the family was happy with the case the state put on.
"They tried their best, that's all we could ask for," she said.
Thomas Skeek was not being held on any other charges. His attorney said after processing at the Anchorage jail, he's expected to go free.
Correction: A photo caption in an earlier version of this story misidentified defense attorney Emily Cooper as Emily Brown. Myrna Brown's name was also misspelled.
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