A Springfield man accused of allegedly murdering his mother last month will stand trial for first-degree murder for her death. Associate Circuit Court Judge Jason Brown determined that the state has enough evidence to proceed to trial today (07-01-09.).

A landlord discovered Judith Roth's body on June 2nd after leaving a note on the door for Skyler Russo that he never responded to. When Springfield police officers Christina Farrand and Dewayne Davis entered the S. Nettleton duplex that the mother and son shared they found Roth's body lying face up, her face covered with a towel.....arms outstreatched like a cross with the word "DEATH" scrawled on the underside of her right forearm. Roth's body was surrounded by candles, cups of liquid and a bible on each side of her body.

In the probable cause statement filed with the second-degree murder charges, Detective Kevin Shipley says Russo admitted that he and his mother had an argument that turned violent on Saturday May 30, 2009. Shipley writes in the statement, "he (Russo) pushed Roth to the ground and then began choking and striking her in the facial area."

Shipley says, "Skyler Russo admitted he struck Roth 20-30 times in the throat with his fist until she was unconscious. Skyler Russo also admitted that he stuffed a t-shirt into Roth's mouth during the assault." An autopsy report indicates that it was the shirt that obstructed Roth's breathing and caused her death.

Neighbors and friends say that they believe that Russo suffers from mental illness , "Russo would duct tape stick crosses on vehicles with notes that say, "Do you know Jesus?" and pass out figurines of mother Mary", according to the PC statement. Investigators also found a multitude of handmade religious symbols both inside and outside of the residence.
Court documents indicate that Roth called police at least two times this year after she was attacked by her son, and that she had attempted to have him temporarily committed in the week prior to her death.

Russo was originally charged with second-degree murder, however, Greene County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Dan Patterson (a.) amended the charge to first-degree murder due to statements made by Russo following his arrest that indicate the planned his mother's murder.
Patterson has not determined if he will seek the death penalty against Russo, but if he is convicted of first-degree murder, the only sentence available is life without the possibility of parole.

Russo continues to be held in the Greene County jail without bond and is scheduled to be arraigned in Circuit Court on July 10th.


Philip VerLee said...

Skyler Russo and I were best friends in the 4th grade. He lived with his grandfather then, a very stern man. Granted, elementary school was a very long time ago, I never knew Skyler to be anything but overwhelmingly kind hearted, almost to the point of being naive. I'd be curious to know if there was anything I could do on his behalf. Murder is a terrible thing... but his family life obviously crushed him. The death penalty is unfathomable in my mind.

Anonymous said...

I also knew skyler in elementary school. We lived in the same neighborhood and hung out as kids. He was also a pretty nice kid. I could not think the death penalty to be a good idea either....