Whye found guilty again in girlfriend's fatal stabbing

Posted: February 14, 2014

Troy Whye was found guilty of first-degree murder for the second time Wednesday in the fatal 2008 stabbing of his estranged girlfriend in front of the couple's toddler.

The verdict, after three days of deliberations, ended the trial in which Whye, 42, was accused of killing Krystal Skinner, then 23, in her Lindenwold apartment. On March 26, police found her son, John, kneeling beside her body, stroking her hair.

During three days of deliberations, the jury at the Camden County Courthouse asked to hear testimony of Whye and at least two witnesses before making its decision.

Before noon Wednesday, jurors returned their verdict. Whye was guilty of murder, endangering the welfare of his child, and illegal possession of a weapon. He faces life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for April.

"The jury obviously gave all the evidence careful consideration, worked very hard, and rendered a just verdict," Camden County Assistant Prosecutor Christine Shah said.

Members of Skinner's family who had attended the trial since it began late last month were relieved. Several had expressed concern that a jury might find Whye guilty of a lesser manslaughter charge, which would reduce any prison sentence.

The couple had a rocky relationship for years, at times living together, until Skinner, an honors student at Rutgers-Camden, broke up with Whye days before the killing.

Whye, who testified that he sold prescription drugs and illegally drove a cab, often took care of his son, who was almost 3. Skinner was taking classes, worked at a deli, and had an internship with the state Department of Youth and Family Services.

Whye testified that Skinner wanted him to get his life together, get a job, and be more responsible. At least once, Skinner called police after an assault, obtained a restraining order against Whye, and told investigators he threatened to kill her.

Whye was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in 2010, but a three-judge appellate panel overturned the conviction, saying Superior Court Judge Samuel Natal failed to include one instruction to the jury.

Whye, who has a 10th-grade education, served as his own attorney during the first trial, assisted by lawyer Albert Afonso, a partner in Afonso, Baker & Archie in Cinnaminson.

During the most recent trial, Whye was represented by Brad Wertheimer of the Public Defender's Office. Whye took the stand and said he was not the killer. He and his attorney suggested Skinner may have been killed during a robbery.

Wertheimer asked about marks on Skinner's door jamb and $5,000 Whye said he left in a box at the apartment. But there was no indication of a break-in, or that cash had been stolen.

Instead, the jury heard from witnesses who said that they had seen Whye in the parking lot of Skinner's apartment before her body was discovered, and that Whye had threatened to kill Skinner if she did not take him back.

Martin Devlin, now a retired lieutenant with the county prosecutor's office, testified that Whye called him, confessed, and said he would surrender.

Whye testified that those witnesses were wrong, and that he never harmed Skinner.

Lindenwold Police Officer Andrew Tweedley fought back tears as he described finding the couple's toddler."He was sitting above his mother's head, stroking her hair," Tweedley said, adding that a bloody butcher knife was nearby.

Tweedley recalled that as the boy held him and the two were face to face, John said: "Troy hit my face."

Later, Tweedley said, the toddler made stabbing gestures with a pen, repeated his father's name, made obscene remarks about women, and said, "Troy hit Mom-mom."

bboyer@phillynews.com856-779-3838 @BBBoyer

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