Social distancing was forgotten for a moment on Friday morning, and hugs were exchanged in the courtroom of the Ste. Genevieve County Courthouse as an important chapter in the murder of Aaron Armantrout came to a close.
Susan J. Skaggs, aka Susan J. Armantrout, pleaded guilty to the Class A felony of murder in the first degree in the December 14, 2018, death of her estranged husband. She told the court she shot Aaron Armantrout that day after he came home from work. She said they had a verbal argument.
She was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of probation or parole. And $68 in court costs, assessed to the state.
Charges of armed criminal action and abandonment of corpse were dropped as part of the deal.
Her guilty plea and sentencing was the second of the morning, as Anthony L. Skaggs, her son, entered a guilty plea to the Class E felony of tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution.
He was sentenced to his time served — 254 days in the Ste. Genevieve County Jail.
For both proceedings, social distancing was observed, as the courtroom itself was limited to 10 people, who for the most part stood six feet from each other. The jury room was used for overflow.
Jeff and Cindy Armantrout, parents of the deceased, sat together in the first row of benches behind the prosecutor’s table. Cindy Armantrout clutched a portrait of her son throughout.
Jeff and Cindy Armantrout each hugged Ste. Genevieve County Prosecuting Attorney Wayne Williams and lieutenant Lance White, a detective in the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s Office, shortly after Susan Skaggs was led from the courtroom.
See complete story in the April 8 edition of the Herald.