Woman gets 2 years in Lauderdale double-manslaughter case
FLORENCE – Explaining that they want to carry on the examples of forgiveness that James and Jo Ann Skipworth displayed throughout their lives, family members Tuesday told the woman responsible for their deaths they will try to forgive her.
The family already has made a decision in that direction, agreeing to a two-year prison sentence for Tamara Lipford Sharp, the Florence woman who pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter in the death of the Skipworths.
Sharp, who has seven DUI convictions on her record, had morphine and Oxycodone in her system at the time of the Jan. 15, 2018, crash that killed the couple, according to her indictment. She also was charged with “using her cellphone on a social media site” at the time of the wreck.
Lauderdale County Circuit Judge Ben Graves told Sharp he agreed to the light sentence because the family requested it.
“Two years in prison is in no way retribution,” Graves said. “No amount of time would be. Miss Sharp, you are a lucky woman to have victims of these crimes that have that set of beliefs and follow through with those beliefs.”
The judge said he was “dumbfounded” by the fact that she has seven prior DUIs.
The crash occurred on Alabama 20 near Lauderdale 228, authorities said.
During the sentencing hearing, the Skipworth’s son-in-law Greg Kimbrell read a statement to Sharp on behalf of the couple’s three children.
It stated the family never will have time with James and Jo Ann again, “all because of your selfish and careless act with no regard for other people’s safety.”
They said they only allowed the light sentence to try to carry on their parents’ reputation for forgiveness, and James Skipworth even told the children he forgave Sharp when he was in the hospital.
Sharp apologized to the family for her actions that caused the Skipworths’ death.
“If I could just take their place, I would,” she said.