Family of suspect accused in university professor's murder speaks out

- Smart, loving and caring. Those are the words used by people close to Jeannine Skinner to describe her.

At the age of 35, family and friends said she accomplished so much. Most recently, she was serving as UNC Charlotte professor.

There are still several questions surrounding her death. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers tell FOX 46 Charlotte, she was murdered during a domestic dispute. Investigators found her body on the morning of September 1 inside an apartment.

On September 4, police officers arrested 45-year-old Donny Lewis Franklin and charged him with Skinner’s murder.

Franklin’s family reached out to FOX 46 Charlotte to offer, what they view, as an explanation as to what contributed to Skinner’s death.

“We’re sorry for the Skinner family about what happened. I mean, to take a loss like that, that is remorseful on our end. But, it was due to something that he couldn’t control and we want to put that out there,” said the suspect's sister, Alyza.

“He’s diagnosed bi-polar, anxiety and depression,” she said. “He was getting help for it and we just believe the medicine just wasn’t right for him. Because he was worse on the medicine."

Franklin’s family is asking for leniency from the courts. FOX 46 Charlotte learned during his first appearance that he denied the charge.

FOX 46 reached out to the victim’s family, and through a family spokesperson, they chose not to participate in this story.

Police officers found Skinner’s body on the 9300 block of Kings Parade Boulevard, at an apartment complex. FOX 46 Charlotte has learned that address belongs to the suspect, Franklin.

The suspect’s family said Franklin reportedly sent a text message that was perceived suicidal to family members. His loved ones contacted CMPD officers, asking them to perform a welfare check on Franklin.

It was during that welfare check that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers tell FOX 46, Skinner’s body was found following a deadly domestic dispute.

Franklin has been indicted and his next court date has not been scheduled.

Skinner’s family will lay her to rest on Saturday. The funeral is scheduled to take place in Florida. The pair had reportedly been dating for about a month. 

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