LATHAM N.Y. – The man accused of intentionally hitting State Trooper Christopher Skinner on I-81 in Broome County could face the death penalty.
Officials say the man behind the wheel, 60-year-old Almond Upton of Melrose, Florida, admitted to intentionally hitting Trooper Skinner. Legal expert and former Albany County District Attorney and Judge, Arnold Proskin, says that if the court says that his statement was voluntary and he was given all his rights, the statement will be utilized and a jury will hear it.
Police say shortly after striking the officer Upton fled into the woods and was found with no clothes on. It was also reported Upton did not appear drunk or under the influence of drugs.
Trooper Skinner was a 13-year veteran of the State Police and at one point in his career worked out of Troop G in Latham.
People who knew Trooper Skinner described him as a dedicated worker who took his job very seriously. He was last assigned to the Traffic Incident Management Unit in Delaware County.
Authorities say Upton hit two other cars on I-81 before hitting the trooper. He was charged with first-degree murder Thursday in the town of Chenango Court.
“First degree murder, it doesn’t happen often, thank goodness. Because if a police officer is killed intentionally that's the only time we have the death penalty in New York state,” said Proskin. “If he is found guilty, there will be a second sort of mini trial to determine whether or not he gets the death penalty or not. I would think the defense would argue that he's mentally unbalanced or something."
Skinner, originally from Binghamton, leaves behind his two children and fiancé.