Philadelphia man pleads guilty to 9-year-old Skyler Kauffman’s murder
(CBS/AP) NORRISTOWN, Pa. – A suburban Philadelphia man who raped a 9-year-old girl before brutally killing her in the basement of their apartment complex will spend the rest of his life in prison under the terms of a plea deal approved by a judge Monday.
The deal enables 24-year-old James Lee Troutman to avoid the death penalty for the murder of Skyler Kauffman.
Troutman pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree murder and related charges two months before a jury was set to hear his case. He admitted to raping Kauffman, then choking her and slamming her head against the basement floor repeatedly before dumping her body in a commercial trash bin on May 9, 2011.
CBS Philly reports Troutman was arrested last May in connection with the murder of the young girl after a detective saw what appeared to be blood on his shoes. He eventually confessed, police said.
A few weeks prior to Kauffman’s murder, the girl’s mother called police to complain about Troutman because she was suspicious about the circumstances surrounding an interaction her daughter and another girl had with him, in which they said they were locked in his bathroom.
At the time there was no evidence a crime had been committed, authorities said of the call.
Defense attorney Craig Penglase said his client had wanted to plead guilty all along, but he was trying to avoid the death penalty. He will now serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“I applaud the DA’s office for their decision to make that possible,” Penglase told the Bucks County Courier Times. “Without their proper use of discretion to take death off the table, this plea wouldn’t have happened and all parties would have had to go through a trial.”