Man changes testimony in case

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Ezra Skinner plead guilty March 12 in Montana 19th Judicial District Court to tampering with evidence in connection with the death of Travis Gillett in January 2017.

He could face up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced.

Skinner and wife Sarah Louise Carpenter Skinner were first arraigned Sept. 18 for deliberate homicide. Each faced a maximum of life in prison.

Sarah Skinner was arraigned again on March 12, with the additional charge of tampering with evidence. She pleaded not guilty on both counts, and trial was set for Aug. 6.

In a March 9 interview with Lincoln County Sheriff’s Detective Duane Rhodes, Ezra Skinner said Sarah Skinner had “expressed her intent and plan to kill” Gillett on Jan. 12, 2017, according to an affidavit from Rhodes. Ezra said he was present when Sarah shot Gillett with Ezra’s .40 caliber Glock. Ezra also told Rhodes he sold the gun to a family member on Feb. 25, 2017, rather than to an unknown person months earlier.

In January 2017, Sarah told Rhodes her boyfriend, Gillett, had been missing since Jan. 13. She said she responded to a text from Gillett on Jan. 14, but did not hear back from him. She said she found his wallet and phone in a plastic bag hanging on her door.

On Jan. 15, Sarah contacted the Ponderay, Idaho Police Department to report him missing. On Jan. 16, she asked Lincoln County Dispatch to send search and rescue, but was told they needed a location. Sarah next traveled to the Yaak Mercantile, showing a photo of Gillett. She started up the “Solo Jack” Road, meeting two hunters at mile marker 45.

Around mile marker 48 Sarah located Gillet’s body near the edge of the road. Later, Rhodes returned to the body, and she and Undersheriff Brandon Huff recovered seven shell casings.

On Jan. 18, Rhodes recovered video footage from a Yaak bar dated Jan. 14 that showed Sarah upset and being comforted by a man later identified as Ezra Skinner.

On Jan. 23. Sarah told Rhodes she had never been to the Yaak. When Rhodes showed her images from the surveillance video. Sarah said she and Ezra had gone to the Yaak to look for Gillett.

Ezra told Rhodes he was at his parents’ house on Ruby Ridge all of Jan. 14. When Rhodes confronted Ezra with the date- and time-stamped images, Ezra ended the interview and asked for a lawyer.

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