Appeals court orders new murder trial for Skinner

Published 1:05 pm Thursday, September 14, 2023

A Warren County man convicted of murder in the 2019 death of another man is getting a new trial.

Jason Skinner was convicted in 2022 of first-degree murder in the shooting of Courtney Anderson at the home of their mutual friend Matthew Koestler and was sentenced by Circuit Judge Toni Walker Terrett to life in prison.

Skinner appealed and the Mississippi Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and sentence and ordered a new trial, ruling Terrett erred when she refused Skinner’s request for an imperfect self-defense manslaughter instruction.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am

Imperfect self-defense is defined as the use of force by someone who makes an honest but unreasonable mistake that force is necessary to repel an attack.

The imperfect self-defense instruction was one of three issues cited in the appeal. Skinner also claimed the judge erred by denying his requests for a mental evaluation for competency and for the viability of an insanity defense; and claimed his counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to request an instruction on second-degree murder.

The appeals court ruled there was no abuse of discretion or error in the judge’s denial of Skinner’s requests for a mental evaluation for competency and for the purpose of determining the viability of an insanity defense. Because the conviction was reversed, the court ruled, the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel claim was moot.

According to Vicksburg police reports, officers on Nov. 27, 2019, responding to a call that a person had been shot at 3708 Halls Ferry Road arrived to find Anderson lying on the floor of the home with a single gunshot wound to the chest. The officers recovered a shotgun. Warren County Coroner Doug Huskey pronounced Anderson dead at the scene.

Skinner fled the scene after the shooting, beginning an hours-long search by police and sheriff’s deputies that ended about 8:30 p.m. when police received an alarm call at Crossway Baptist Church, 1825 U.S. 61 South, where officers found an open door.

Law enforcement officials surrounded the church and waited for Skinner to come out.

Skinner believed Anderson was either a threat to, or threatening, Skinner’s former girlfriend. Skinner testified at his trial that he acted in self-defense and was afraid for his life.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John