Federal authorities have taken jurisdiction of a bizarre case involving a New Zealand man who flew across the world and was shot after allegedly trying to break into a 14-year-old girl’s home in Goochland County.
Goochland Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Caudill on Tuesday informed Judge Claiborne Stokes of Goochland General District Court that he was withdrawing a felony charge against Troy George Skinner, 30, of breaking and entering with a deadly weapon with the intent to commit rape.
Immediately after the brief proceeding, Goochland Sheriff James Agnew said county authorities were transferring jurisdiction of the case to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. He noted the FBI had charged Skinner with several counts “relating to his actions in Goochland County on June 22,” the day of the attempted break-in.
Skinner was to be processed Monday out of the Henrico County Jail, where he has been held since his arrest, and moved into federal custody under the authority of the FBI.
Federal court records show that FBI special agent Kathryn Weber filed a criminal complaint Thursday against Skinner in U.S. District Court in Richmond, charging him with the production of child pornography and “coercion and enticement” of a minor. The dates of offense are listed as Jan. 8 through June 4.
An affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint that details Skinner’s alleged crimes was sealed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Roderick C. Young at the request of federal prosecutors, records show.
A date for Skinner’s first appearance in U.S. District Court in Richmond was not publicly available as of Monday.
Michael Schuler, chief counsel of the FBI’s Richmond office, said it’s not unusual for local authorities to file charges against a criminal defendant who eventually may be prosecuted federally. That gives “the FBI more time to complete its investigation before federal charges are filed,” he said.
“The U.S. attorney’s office works closely with the commonwealth’s attorney office and they try to determine which charges would best suit each individual case,” he said. “Sometimes that depends on the penalty and sometimes that depends on each local jurisdiction and what they want to do.”
Although he declined to speak specifically about the Skinner case, Schuler said the FBI would more likely become involved if a foreign suspect communicated with a U.S. citizen from overseas. “That particular crime is one the FBI is always interested in and pursues very heavily,” he said.
On Monday, as Skinner waited for his case to be called, he sat quietly in shackles in a front row seat of the courtroom’s spectators gallery, where he had been placed by deputies. He passively looked on as the court disposed of several minor traffic cases.
When his case was called, Skinner rose and stood next to his court-appointed attorney, James Cooke, and the charge against him was dropped.
In a news briefing in June, Agnew said Skinner was shot and wounded in the neck by the mother of the 14-year-old girl whom Skinner was apparently trying to meet after breaking into the family’s home on Steeplechase Parkway. Skinner had traveled more than 8,600 miles from Auckland, New Zealand, and arrived uninvited after methodically planning his trip to the U.S., Agnew has said.
The mother was painting downstairs with one of her daughters when Skinner, after first knocking on the front door, suddenly appeared at the back basement door and spotted the family inside, Agnew said.
Skinner told the mother through the door, “I need some help; I’ve hitchhiked here 30 miles,” the sheriff said.
Skinner then attempted to break down the door with a brick. The mother locked the door from the basement steps to the main house after she and her daughter ran upstairs. At that point, Agnew said, the mother instructed her youngest daughter to retrieve the family’s .22-caliber pistol, and the mother loaded it.
Skinner then reappeared on the back deck and again tried to get inside by throwing a landscaping brick through a glass door. The mother warned Skinner several times that she had a gun, Agnew said.
After he broke the glass, Skinner reached inside and attempted to unlatch the door, and that’s when the mother fired twice. One round struck Skinner in the neck, Agnew said.
Skinner fled but collapsed in a yard nearby. Investigators found him in possession of duct tape, pepper spray and a camouflage folding clip knife with a 2.75-inch blade, Agnew said. The duct tape and the blade had been purchased from a Walmart on the day of the attack.
Investigators believe Skinner first made contact with the 14-year-old girl three to four months earlier through Discord, a voice-over-internet application that allows video gamers to communicate via their personal computer or smartphone. Agnew said the girl had tried to stop communicating with Skinner, but he persisted.