Woman agrees to plea in fentanyl death  

Photos of Jax Markley, who died from fentanyl poisoning in November 2022. Courtesy photo

A woman accused of selling the fatal overdose that killed a Valencia High School graduate nearly two years ago is expected to accept a plea deal next week, according to federal officials. 

Per the terms of the proposed agreement, the defendant, Skylar Lynn Mitchell, 25, of Saugus, agrees not to seek a sentence below 10 years in prison, according to an email Monday from Ciaran McEvoy, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  

“However, the prosecution has not yet requested a specific sentence from the court,” he added, noting that procedurally, she has not technically pleaded guilty yet, she’s only agreed to plead guilty. “Assuming Mitchell pleads guilty, we expect to file our sentencing memorandum — which will have our specific request for prison time — in the coming months.” 

Mitchell’s case was one of the early investigations of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Opioid Overdose Response Task Force, which was formed so such investigations could result in federal charges, which would mean stiffer penalties for the crimes. 

Mitchell sold Jax Markley a fatal dose of fentanyl on Nov. 6, 2022, months after Markley’s high school graduation, according to federal court records. 

Based on the LASD task force investigation, which was then turned over to federal investigators with the Department of Justice, Mitchell was charged with one count of federal statute 21:841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C), which is the distribution of fentanyl resulting in death.  

The tragedy spurred Jax Markley’s father, Matt Markley, to become more involved, even publicly chastising District Attorney George Gascón during a campaign stop over the DA’s refusal to charge the crimes surrounding his child’s death as a murder. 

Representatives from both Gascón’s office and his campaign declined to address the exchange or questions about his office’s apparent change in tact: On Thursday, Gascón announced he’s charging a Granada Hills man with murder for allegedly knowingly selling fentanyl and methamphetamine to a woman who died from an overdose. 

Matt Markley said he’s learned an incredible amount from the process and also become an advocate and supporter for those who are dealing with the same tragedy he’s experienced. 

He was in court recently to support a parent who lost a child even younger than his to the same circumstances and said that defendant received a 15-year sentence. 

“So my expectation, given what I know about the details of the mitigating facts — I had to look through the lens of the experience of the law,” he said, which, as a parent, was very difficult for him to do. 

According to court records obtained by The Signal, those circumstances included Mitchell telling detectives that family members introduced her to marijuana at age 12, she was in foster care at age 14 and began using fentanyl during the pandemic.   

“I weighed in with the prosecutor that I wouldn’t even consider accepting less than 10 years because the first number they came in with was eight,” he said. “I said, ‘Nope, I’m not interested in that,’ and I’d just as soon go through the process if that’s what it’s going to be.” 

The maximum penalty for Mitchell’s offense is 20 years under federal sentencing laws. 

While Judge Stephen V. Wilson may consider impact statements from the family members of any victims and the recommendation from prosecutors, the sentencing surrounding deaths related to fentanyl murders is a relatively new crime. 

Dominick Alvarado, 22, pleaded guilty in November under a plea deal to two counts related to fentanyl deaths, facing a maximum of 40 years in prison. Alvarado agreed to a 12-year plea deal, and Judge John F. Walter meted out a 15-year, six-month sentence in May.  

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS