COVID prompts mistrial in Indiana case of woman accused of murdering stepdaughter

GRANT COUNTY, Ind. (WXIN) — A judge cited positive COVID-19 cases as the reason for declaring a mistrial last week in the trial of a Gas City woman accused of killing her stepdaughter.

Amanda Carmack faces charges of murder, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, domestic battery resulting in death and strangulation in the death of 10-year-old Skylea Carmack.

The 10-year-old was reported missing in late August 2019. Police found her body hidden inside trash bags in a shed. She’d been strangled. Police said Amanda Carmack admitted to killing Skylea days after initially reporting her missing.

Court proceedings had already been delayed after individuals associated with the trial tested positive for COVID-19. An individual considered a “critical participant in the trial” will have to quarantine for an additional 14 days after a spouse’s 10-day isolation. The court said that would result in a 24-day delay, and with the Thanksgiving holiday quickly approaching, the trial would be further delayed “as a practical matter.”

The mistrial doesn’t dismiss the charges against Carmack; it simply means prosecutors will need to seek another trial.

Skylea lived in a home with Amanda, her biological father Kevin Carmack, and six other children.

The other children told police Amanda is a “strict disciplinarian, physically abusing them.” They said when they were in trouble they would have to stand with their face against the wall and their hands in the air, sometimes for several hours. They also said Amanda used a belt to whip them.

During her first hearing in Sept. 2019, Amanda Carmack waived her right to counsel, saying she “doesn’t need a lawyer.” Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case.