Teen convicted in stabbing of girlfriend's parents

PORT HURON (AP) -- A teenager accused of fatally stabbing his girlfriend's father and seriously wounding her mother was convicted Wednesday for an attack that Michigan prosecutors said the couple's daughter helped plan.

Jonathan Kurtz, 19, was found guilty of murder and other charges in the November stabbings of Paul and Mara Skinner at their home in Yale, about 85 miles northeast of Detroit. Their daughter, Tia Skinner, 18, and Kurtz's neighbor, James Preston, 19, will go on trial later this summer.

Prosecutors said Tia Skinner was angry at her parents for forbidding her from seeing Kurtz, and for grounding her and confiscating her cell phone after finding texts from him declaring his love.

Authorities said Kurtz and Preston broke into the home and attacked the couple when Tia Skinner was in the basement watching a movie with her brother.

The St. Clair County jury deliberated for about 30 minutes before convicting Kurtz, who faces a mandatory punishment of life in prison when sentenced July 25, the Times Herald in Port Huron reported.

Investigators said they were led to the suspects in part by a hand-drawn map -- with the words "my house" written on it -- that was found outside the scene of the violent home invasion.

Jurors were shown text messages from the trio that were sent before and a few hours after the attack.

Tia Skinner called Kurtz "hunny" and "sweetie" in messages, and worried about "creaky" floors in her home. Kurtz texted: "ya better figure it out fast Friday ready or not were doin It."

Texts between Kurtz and Preston described their plans for spending $1,000 promised by Tara Skinner.

"Only if I get paid is it fun," Preston texted. Kurtz responded: "Then you get to buy (stuff)."

Published: Fri, Jun 24, 2011