Death of woman tried on gun charge ruled suicide

Carol Ann McNeill Skorupan

The death of a Madison, Wisconsin woman who was on trial for bringing a firearm and ammunition to Cayman, has been ruled a suicide, according to news reports in her home state.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday that Carol Ann McNeill-Skorupan, 68, was found dead 18 April from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a wooded area near her home the same day a second trial date was set for the weapons violation. The day before, a first trial on the charges resulted in a hung jury.

McNeill Skorupan was tried in absentia for that first trial. Cayman News Service reported that prosecutors planned to extradite her for the second trial to be held in September. That report was issued 18 April, the same day she died.

No announcement of extradition was made during court proceedings that same day.

McNeill-Skorupan’s attorney, James Stenning, said he had no knowledge of plans to extradite his client before seeing it in the news report.

“I did not hear anyone say anything about extraditing her on that day,” Stenning said.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran said no decision on extradition had been announced.

“In light of potentially inaccurate reports circulating in the media,” Moran said in an email, “we can confirm that at no stage during these proceedings was the court informed whether a decision had been taken by the crown to seek the extradition of this defendant.

According to the Journal Sentinel report, friends of McNeill-Skorupan described her as being stressed about the ongoing legal proceedings and the possibility that she might be facing a prison sentence of 10 or more years.

She was arrested at Owen Roberts International Airport 3 Feb., when a .25 calibre handgun and six rounds of ammunition were found in her suitcase.

She arrived in Cayman as a cruise ship passenger. But on the flight from Wisconsin to Florida, one of her bags had been misplaced. She told authorities, after her arrest, that she had asked Delta Air Lines to send the bag to a friend’s house in Florida. Instead, it was sent to Grand Cayman, the first stop on an 11-day cruise she was on. Prosecutors argued she intended to receive the bag here and did not declare the firearm.

Cayman’s gun laws set mandatory minimums for violations, unless the court finds exceptional circumstances.

McNeill-Skorupan spent three days in jail when she was first arrested, before being released on bail. A judge later gave her permission to travel. She returned home and did not come back to Cayman for the trial, forfeiting a $25,000 bond.

The Journal Sentinel article described a desperate search for McNeill-Skorupan after she left her home for a walk around 3:30pm on 18 April. When she had not returned two hours later, her husband reportedly called police.

Officers eventually used a phone app to locate McNeill-Skorupan’s cellphone. She was dead when they found her.