MARION — An outbreak of COVID-19 cases was behind the decision to declare a mistrial in the trial of Amanda Carmack, the Grant County woman charged in the murder of her stepdaughter.
According to an order issued by Grant County Circuit Court Judge Mark Spitzer, the trial, which began October 19, was delayed for one week on the 27th when individuals associated with the trial were found to be COVID-19 positive.
The hope was the resume the trial on November 4. But when court reconvened, it was learned that the spouse of a person associated with the trial had tested positive for the virus. "This individual is a critical participant in the trial," according to Spitzer's order. Another delay would take the trial past Thanksgiving. "Such a delay would be inappropriate," said the judge, who then ordered a mistrial.
Efforts to schedule a new trial will begin at the end of November.
It was September of last year when 10-year-old Skylea Carmack's body was found in a shed behind her Gas City home, covered in a plastic trash bag.
Stepmother Amanda Carmack, 34, was arrested and charged with murder, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, domestic battery, and strangulation.
The Grant County Coroner said Skylea died of strangulation and had been dead four-days when state police found her body.
According to court documents, when questioned by detectives about whether she had done anything to the child, Amanda Carmack said, "I don't remember," or "it doesn't matter." But she eventually admitted to killing Skylea, by choking the girl and then tying "something" around her neck.
Carmack said she did it because she was angry and claimed "mental disease" as her defense. But a mental evaluation found the woman was competent to stand trial.
If convicted, Carmack could face life in prison.