UXBRIDGE: Nearly six years after Uxbridge’s Chris Skinner died after being beaten and then run over by an SUV in Toronto’s Entertainment District, the driver of the vehicle has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Agustin Caruso, the driver of the black Ford Explorer which was used as a murder weapon in the early morning hours of Oct. 18, 2009, was originally charged with second-degree murder in the death of the 27-year-old Skinner.
In a Toronto courtroom on Monday, Oct. 5, Justice John McMahon sentenced Mr. Caruso to eight-and-a-half years in prison. According to media reports, with credit for time already served, he has a total of six years, two months and 15 days left on his sentence. In addition, he is prohibited from driving for 10 years and has also been placed under a lifetime ban from owning a firearm.
The court heard that Mr. Caruso admitted that he was part of the group that attacked Mr. Skinner. However, he denied running over him deliberately, but did admit that he knew Mr. Skinner was lying near the car, adding that he was intoxicated by alcohol and cocaine and acted recklessly after spending the evening at a nightclub.
According to an agreed statement of facts read by the Crown, Mr. Skinner had been making his way home from a bar in the Entertainment District after celebrating his younger sister’s birthday, and in the moments before his tragic death had been attempting to hail a cab.
According to testimony for the case’s preliminary hearing, the Crown said that Mr. Skinner had asked those in the Explorer for a ride and when they refused, his hand struck the side of the truck.
Then, the men got out of the car and kicked and punched Mr. Skinner to the ground, where the beating continued as he lay motionless before being run over by Mr. Caruso.
After several years of pleas for information from Mr. Skinner’s family, a break in the case occurred in late 2013, when a tip led to a wiretap investigation and, ultimately charges against four of the individuals involved in the slaying.
Victim impact statements were read by members of Skinner’s family, and noted that the affable, loving, smart and popular young man, who had served as student council president while attending Port Perry High School was engaged to be married and aspired to be a lawyer before his life was tragically cut short.
A trial is set to begin in March for two of the other men allegedly in the SUV that have been charged with assault causing bodily harm, Jamaal Phillips-Bond and Nicholas Swaby.
An obstruction of justice trial against the fourth man charged, Anthony Samuel, is ongoing.