By Michael Kloppenburg
For the Star-Gazette
Debra Webster, daughter of convicted murderer Shirley Skinner, was arrested following a clemency hearing for Skinner on Jan. 15.
The arrest is the result of a lawsuit for her family’s unpaid legal bills. In addition to Debra, husband, Robert, and daughter, Jennifer Watkins, are named as defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed in January 2011 by law firm of Brown, Hay & Stephens. In April of that year a judgment was entered in favor of the law firm and in August 2012, an arrest warrant was issued for non-payment of the judgment. Webster posted bond at the Logan County Jail and was released.
Webster testified at the hearing about her mother’s alleged ill health and claimed Skinner had suffered three strokes while in prison. The board will make a private recommendation to Governor Pat Quinn resulting from its findings.
Skinner is serving a 55-year prison sentence for the 2008 murder of Steven Watkins. At the hearing, Skinner characterized the shooting as Skinner defending her family. Watkins’s family and special prosecutor Michael Vujovich, who secured Skinner’s murder conviction in 2010, spoke at the hearing against the petition for clemency.
Meanwhile, Watkins’s family has not seen his daughter, Sidney, since 2010, when Jennifer, Steven’s estranged wife, moved to Florida as she was being threatened with arrest for failing to produce Sidney for court-ordered visitation. That case resulted in Jennifer spending five months in jail as an extradition battle on contempt of court charges was waged. She was eventually released but more contempt charges related to the Cass County visitation order were filed last year.