Death penalty sought in murder of Skyler Kauffman

Pictured: James Lee Troutman. Police say he sexually assaulted and murdered 9-year-old Skyler Kauffman in Souderton, Pa.

May 23, 2011 3:45:41 PM PDT
Prosecutors in Norristown say they will seek the death penalty against a man charged in the rape and murder of his 9-year-old neighbor.

24-year-old James Troutman is charged with kidnapping and assaulting Skyler Kauffman on May 9 before killing her and stuffing her body in a trash bin at the Souderton Arms apartment building where they both lived.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman told reporters Monday that prosecutors would seek the death penalty if Troutman is convicted of first-degree murder.

"If ever there was a case where it was appropriate for the Commonwealth to seek the death penalty this is it; it's a brutal sexual assault and murder of a 9-year-old child. I can't think of another case where the death penalty is more warranted," Ferman said.

Troutman waived his preliminary hearing during video proceedings from county prison Monday.

"There's no shortage of threats, there's no shortage of animosity towards him, so we were concerned," defense attorney Craig Penglase told Action News.

It was noted today that Troutman, while in custody, has developed a significant bald spot.

"He's physically pulling the hair out of his hair; he's surrounded by individuals who know what he's charged with. I applaud Montgomery County Correctional Facility for keeping him safe thus far, but certainly, he is in close proximity to a large population of people who do not stay kindly to those offenses to which he is charged," Penglase said.

Penglase says he is concerned with client's mental health condition and is monitoring it on a regular basis.

Troutman will proceed to trial and is scheduled for arraignment July 13 in Norristown.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.