Indictment lists stabbing, arson as cause of death

MAYVILLE – An indictment handed up by a Chautauqua County grand jury details the grisly deaths of two well-known residents discovered last week in the town of Carroll.

The four men apprehended in connection to the homicides of Joyce and Gordon Skinner were arraigned Friday morning in front of the Hon. John T. Ward, Chautauqua County court judge. A grand jury on Wednesday indicted all four suspects from the Elmira area on at least 10 charges.

Two of the men, Davide Coggins, 34, and Joshua A. McCormick, 21, were charged with first-degree murder.

Coggins, McCormick, Ricky L. Knickerbocker, 18, and Steven W. Todd, 18, also were each charged with two counts of second-degree murder with intent to cause death; two counts of felony second-degree murder; first-degree arson; two counts of first-degree burglary; second-degree arson; second-degree burglary; and fourth-degree conspiracy.

Due to the ages of Knickerbocker and Todd, first-degree murder charges were unavailable.

Sheriff Joe Gerace and District Attorney David Foley remained tight-lipped about the case in a press conference following the arraignments.

“This is still an ongoing investigation,” Foley told reporters. “We felt we had enough to present to a grand jury. We did, but we are still working on this case.

“Therefore, to protect the integrity of any new potential information, we are not going to speak to the facts of the case.”

Gerace, meanwhile, alluded to quick action by investigators that led to arrests less than 24 hours after the bodies of Gordon, 66, and Joyce, 59, were discovered by firefighters inside their burning residence on Wheeler Hill Road.

“Without any question it was the combination of outstanding law enforcement here locally,” Gerace said, later adding, “We had cooperation in Chemung County that was unprecedented.”

Foley said a preliminary autopsy report conducted by the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office had been received, but declined to list causes of death.

The indictment by the grand jury, however, notes the four suspects – while aiding, abetting or acting in concert with one another – entered the Skinners’ residence on or around April 17 with intent to murder. Both victims were stabbed, causing the death of Gordon. Joyce died as a result of the stabbing and the fire, the indictment states.

Bail for Coggins, who is being represented by Public Defender Ned Barone, was set at $2.5 million cash or $5 million real property by Ward. Barone said he was not surprised to see an indictment on first-degree murder.

“I kind of figured that may have been coming,” he said. “It’s not unusual for this type of case. But what this means is that it starts the clock ticking for us.”

McCormick’s bail was set at $2 million cash or $4 million real property, while Knickerbocker’s and Todd’s were set at $1.5 million cash or $3 million real property. All three are being represented by local attorneys.

All four men pleaded innocent on Friday and are scheduled to be back in court on June 10 for a pre-motion conference.