November 22, 2019

Madison woman’s Cayman Island gun case takes more twists as she’s tried in absentia

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By Bruce Vielmetti From Milwaukee Sentinel

The strange case of how lost luggage left a 68-year-old Madison woman facing potential prison time in the Cayman Islands has taken a double twist.

Carol Ann McNeill-Skorupan flew to Florida to start a Caribbean cruise in February. One of her three bags — containing her .25-caliber handgun and ammunition — didn’t arrive.

When the Celebrity Silhouette made its first port in George Town on Feb. 3, Cayman authorities said her missing bag was at the airport, where X-rays revealed the gun. She said she had not asked that the bag be forwarded to her and that Delta Airlines must have made that decision.

No matter, she was arrested charged with illegal possession of a firearm, jailed and later released on bail, and eventually allowed to leave the island after posting a $25,000 surety bond.

The Cayman Islands is a British overseas territory south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica, with very strict gun laws.

She and David Meadors, a South Florida contractor, appeared to be the only two among many U.S. tourists caught leaving the Caymans with guns or ammunition to be set for trial and not just fined, according to Meadors. The offense carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison — unless a court finds “exceptional circumstances.”

McNeill-Skorupan, a certified public accountant and active in the Dane County Republican Party, didn’t return messages last month seeking an interview about her case.

She died unexpectedly Thursday, a day after a Cayman jury couldn’t reach a verdict after prosecutors tried her in absentia.

The Cayman Compass, the country’s main news outlet, reported the case turned on what it meant to possess the gun.

McNeill-Skorupan admitted she had packed the weapon, and that it was her suitcase. But a customs officer admitted to the defense attorney that he had never seen McNeill-Skorupan with the suitcase in her possession.

According to the Cayman Compass reports:

Jurors heard a recording of McNeill-Skorupan’s interrogation by Cayman customs officials. The Compass reported that she traveled with an expired passport because she was told being on the ship was like remaining in Florida and that her Wisconsin concealed carry permit would allow her to have her gun in Florida.

She didn’t think she had to declare the gun because she didn’t think she was traveling overseas. She told investigators she took the gun because she planned to be traveling to unsafe places before and after the cruise, and denied she was trying to get it on the ship because she feared some the cruise’s ports were unsafe places.

The nine-night cruise had other port calls in Aruba and the Netherland Antilles.

On Wednesday, the seven-member jury told the judge in Grand Court that five of them could not agree on a verdict after almost four hours of deliberations, and likely would not even with more time. The judge dismissed the jury.

On Monday, unaware she had died, prosecutors announced they planned to retry McNeill-Skorupan in September.

Meadors, who was charged in 2017 and last year pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a 9mm handgun he brought to Cayman Islands, where he built a retirement home, was allowed to return to Florida for medical treatment.

He is due back in George Town in May for a hearing on his request for a medical delay in his case.

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