Son who dismembered ex-Macomb judge gets 15 years

Neal Rubin
The Detroit News
James Scandirito II  was found guilty in March of cutting James "Skip" Scandirito into at least seven pieces and burying the largest parts of him on an abandoned golf course in Boca Raton.

The son who dismembered a disbarred former Macomb County judge in Florida was sentenced Friday to the maximum 15 years in prison.

James "Jimmy" Scandirito II was found guilty in March of cutting James "Skip" Scandirito into at least seven pieces with a hand saw and burying the largest parts of him on an abandoned golf course in Boca Raton.

The jury found the 50-year-old not guilty of first-degree murder. He will receive credit for 439 days already served, and was fined $10,668. A hearing in August will decide whether he's assessed the cost of the investigation.

The pronouncement from 15th Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes of Palm Beach County capped an 80-minute hearing that included a wrenching 22-minute address from Skip Scandirito's niece, Ellen Scandirito of Madison Heights.

James "Skip" Scandirito was found dismembered in Palm Beach County, Florida.

"It is extremely difficult to summarize and convey the magnitude and complexity that Jimmy’s crimes have left on this family," she said through sobs. 

Throughout the trial and early part of the sentencing, "we have heard so much about Jimmy," she said, "but we didn’t learn much about James Scandirito Sr., whose last dignity was literally shred away at the hands of his own flesh and blood."

Jimmy Scandirito had asked in a sentencing memorandum to be released with two years of probation or drug rehabilitation.

One of his public defenders, Elizabeth Ramsey, suggested as mitigating circumstances that his crime was unsophisticated, that he had shown remorse and that it was an isolated incident. She pointed out Friday that he would lose his real estate license, and that his family "will never again embrace him."

Kastrenakes acknowledged that Jimmy had no prior criminal record, but he dismissed the other arguments.

Jimmy's once-successful real estate career, law degree and clean record belied a serious drug addiction, he said, though "I'm not suggesting these things are mutually exclusive."

Further, the judge said, Jimmy's deliberate efforts to dispose of his father's remains — which included multiple shopping trips for supplies, and burial in the darkest of night — showed sophistication and a thorough lack of contrition.

Jimmy's memorandum claimed his father's poor parenting was to blame for the alcohol and drug use that prompted his actions at his father's home in March 28, 2018.

Kastrenakes noted that Jimmy's description of their close relationship during trial had helped persuade the jury that he had not killed his father, but rather found him dead during a night of drinking and drug use.

"That makes it much more, I'll use the word, despicable that you would do that to your own father," Kastrenakes said.

Prosecutors had contended that Jimmy killed Skip, 74, for his $800,000 estate. They said Skip had declined to continue loaning money to his son, a once high-flying real estate salesman with a taste for German luxury cars and young women from Brazil and Colombia.

Jimmy, who grew up in Harrison Township, said he panicked at the thought of police discovering his drugs, and opted to sever his father's head and limbs over the next day or two while claiming Skip had embarked on a kayaking trip with a new girlfriend.

Skip and his late wife, Terri, moved to Florida in early 2000 after he settled at least four civil suits alleging he had offered women leniency in his courtroom in exchange for sex.

He had resigned his Mount Clemens district judgeship a few days ahead of likely removal from the bench by the Judicial Tenure Commission. He was disbarred in Florida in 2006, three years after he was fired from a state legal job for not disclosing the Michigan misconduct.

Ellen Scandirito and Skip's only surviving sibling, Sharon Scobel of Columbus, Indiana, have filed suit under Florida's so-called "slayer statute" to prevent Jimmy from claiming his inheritance from Skip's estate. The statute is designed to keep killers from profiting from their crimes.

"If we don't get a nickel and Jimmy doesn't get it, we don't care," Scobel told The Detroit News. "If it all goes to the lawyers, fine."

Twitter: @nealrubin_dn