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Trouble with men, money, lies in suspect's past

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

A woman who allegedly had her husband murdered for money pled not guilty to unrelated charges she tried to steal $6,041.

Carolyn Allene Skinner, 50, is accused of murdering her husband, truck driver Donald Ray Skinner, last June, and conspiring to murder him with her one-time lover, former Atlanta State Farmers Market Police Officer Charles Alan Smith.

She is scheduled to stand trial in Clayton County in August.

She is scheduled to stand trial on charges of financial identity fraud in Fayette County in September.

Though the charges are unrelated, they are directly connected in that police and prosecutors allege Allene Skinner is a "black widow," whose life was dedicated to "twisting up men" with lies in pursuit of money.

At a probable cause hearing in Clayton County, a homicide detective said Allene Skinner lied to him repeatedly during his investigation into her husband's murder, and she showed up at the insurance company inquiring about her husband's $90,000 life insurance policy. Those who knew the woman, the detective said, characterized her as "evil."

Skinner's attorney counters that the only thing she did wrong was attract men.

Her daughter, Kristi Shirley, echoes that, saying when she talks to her mother in jail, her mother says, "Kristi, do not get involved with a man. You can see where men will put you."

According to court records in the Griffin Judicial Circuit, however, Allene Skinner has more than once gotten into trouble involving money and lies, and while some instances seem to involve her relationships with men, other accusations are against her alone.

In April 2005, Allene Skinner and her now-deceased husband, Donald Ray, passed a bad cashiers check in an attempt to purchase a house in Senoia. They wrote the check for $349,000 "and it bounced, the whole amount," said Scott Ballard, the Griffin Judicial Court's district attorney.

While on probation for that charge, Allene Skinner allegedly gave another bad check to the same Peachtree City Attorney in January 2006. According to Ballard, Allene Skinner wrote a check to herself in the name of Phillip Brooks and was trying to withdraw money from his escrow account.

She was arrested by Peachtree City Police about two and half weeks after her husband was shot four times in a truck depot parking lot, a crime former police officer Charles Smith confessed to, saying he did it because he was in love with Allene Skinner and she asked him to do it.

Last week, Allene Skinner pled not guilty to the financial fraud charge in Fayette County.

She is the only person charged in the allegation, though in the previous Fayette County fraud case, she and her husband were co-defendants.

Both Donald Ray Skinner's family and Allene Skinner's daughter describe on-going financial tensions between the couple. Shirley said, "He promised her things, like buying her a home and supporting her, and then he'd get mad and he wouldn't give her money."

Donald Ray Skinner's Mother, Carol C. Skinner, described her daughter-in-law as, "a con artist from way back. She was manipulative. She spent all his money. He told that truck driver that rode with him that she just spent too much money for him."

When Allene Skinner began an affair with Smith, the two tried to buy a house together, according to Smith's lawyer.

It is not clear at this point, though, if Allene Skinner's history and alleged history with money, men and lies will be admitted into testimony before a jury when she stands trial on charges of murdering her husband in August.