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Thread: Stephen Christopher Stanko - South Carolina Death Row

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    Stephen Christopher Stanko - South Carolina Death Row


    Laura Ling


    Henry Turner




    Summary of Offense:

    On April 8, 2005, Stanko killed Laura Ling, his live-in girlfriend, by slitting her throat. He then sexually assaulted a teenage girl in his home. Stanko was on probation at the time of the murder for a previous attack on a woman. The defense argued that Stanko had brain injuries, therefore did not possess the ability to tell right from wrong. Brain scans were even introduced into evidence to prove the brain damage.

    Stanko was also sentenced to death on November 19, 2009 for the murder of Henry Turner, whose body was found the day after Ling was killed.

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    September 30, 2009

    Man on Death Row Faces Second Death Penalty

    MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) -- A man on South Carolina's death row for killing his girlfriend faces a second death penalty if he's convicted of killing a Conway man.

    The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reported Tuesday that Stephen Stanko will face trial starting Nov. 9 in the death of 74-year-old Henry Lee Turner.

    Turner was found shot to death at his home on April 8, 2005.

    Stanko has been sentenced to die for killing his live-in girlfriend, Laura Ling, and assaulting a teen on the same day.

    Prosecutor Greg Hembree says he will seek a second death sentence for Stanko if he is convicted.

    Stanko is being held on death row in Ridgeville, with no date set for his execution.

    Defense attorney Bill Diggs says many of the same issues raised in Ling's death will be important in the new case

    http://www.wltx.com/news/story.aspx?storyid=79045

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    November 2, 2009

    Stanko murder case in pretrial phase this week

    Convicted killer Stephen Stanko, who is on death row for his girlfriend's murder, is due in court this week for pretrial motions in the death penalty case against him for the slaying of a Conway man.

    Attorneys will discuss pretrial motions in an Horry County courtroom Wednesday and Friday, 15th Judicial Circuit Deputy Solicitor Fran Humphries said.

    Stanko is set to stand trial beginning Nov. 9 for the death of Henry Lee Turner, 74, who was found in his home dead from a gunshot wound.

    Police say Stanko fatally shot Turner on April 8, 2005, after he attacked his live-in girlfriend, Laura Ling, and sexually assaulted her teenage daughter earlier the same day.

    In August 2006, a jury found Stanko guilty of two counts of kidnapping, and one count each of assault and battery with intent to kill, armed robbery, murder and first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Ling's death and the sexual assault of the teen.

    Stanko is being held on death row in Ridgeville. No execution date has been set.

    Myrtle Beach attorney Bill Diggs will represent Stanko in the November trial.

    Diggs, who was also Stanko's lawyer in 2006, will be assisted by attorney Brana Williams.

    http://www.thesunnews.com/news/break...y/1145447.html

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    November 5, 2009

    Death row inmate Stanko ruled competent for 2nd trial

    CONWAY, SC (AP) - A man on South Carolina's death row for killing his girlfriend has been ruled competent to stand trial in a second death penalty case.

    The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports Thursday that Judge Steven John ruled that Stephen Stanko is competent to be tried in the death of 74-year-old Henry Lee Turner.

    http://www.wistv.com/global/story.asp?s=11448141

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    November 16, 2009

    SC death row inmate found guilty a second time

    MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) - A 42-year-old man already on South Carolina's death row has been found guilty of killing a 74-year-old man in a separate shooting.

    The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports a jury found Stephen Stanko guilty Monday of murder and armed robbery in the April 8, 2005, shooting death of Henry Turner. The elderly man was found dead in his home.

    Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Stanko. He is already on death row for killing his live-in girlfriend, Laura Ling, in 2005, and sexually abusing a teen girl the same day.

    Prosecutors said he then went to Turner's home and shot him twice, once in the back through a pillow.

    Stanko was found guilty in August 2006 in Ling's death and the teen's assault. He is appealing that death sentence.

    http://www.live5news.com/Global/story.asp?S=11516471

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    November 19, 2009

    Stephen Stanko sentenced to death

    Stephen Stanko received his 2nd death sentence Thursday afternoon.

    After deliberating for a little more than an hour, the jury sentenced him to death.

    Judge Steven John allowed Stanko to address jurors with a hand-written letter during closing arguments prior to their deliberation.

    During that address, Stanko said, "No matter what it is I know you (the jury) will make the right decision. But do it fairly. Don't put me in that position I am going to kill you and do the same thing that you are accusing me of."

    "In going to court, I just didn't want to hurt anybody else and that's why I didn't want my family here," Stanko said, "because I didn't want them to go through this."

    The same jury took just 45 minutes Monday afternoon to convict Stanko of the murder of 74-year-old Henry Lee Turner in his Conway home more than 4 years ago.

    "It's the 1st step, in talking so briefly with them," said 15th Circuit Court Solicitor Greg Hembree about Turner's family who were at the trial since it began, "you could see the relief on their faces, guilty is really what they are about, I mean they wanted to hold him accountable for his actions, for killing their dad and family member so that’s been accomplished and that’s a huge relief for them."

    Before resting their Monday, prosecutors presented their rebuttal witnesses to refute what the defense put up during the weekend.

    The team brought in forensic psychologist Dr. Pamela Crawford, who told the jury that when she interviewed Stanko for 17 hours in 2006, she concluded "he has a grandiose sense of self importance, failure to conform to social norms and lack of remorse."

    Before her testimony, Crawford told 15th Circuit Court Judge Steven H. John, in the absence of the jury, Stanko said he was in fear of his life and that’s why he had to shoot Turner.

    "It's clear from what he told me that not only did he remember the events, but he was asserting that he was defending himself," Crawford said, "which sort of rules out an insanity defense in the sense that he said that, 'I remembered it, I did this because I was trying to protect myself,' and that’s just pretty crucial."

    John told persecutors he wouldn't allow the details of the conversation between Crawford and Stanko to be heard by the jury.

    During closing arguments both sides asked the jury to come up with a verdict that "will speak the truth."

    "Folks let me tell you something," said Deputy Solicitor Fran Humphries, "he had plans, and if you can plan you will appreciate the wrongfulness of your actions and if you appreciate them then he is not insane, not by law of the State of South Carolina."

    "He has a severe case of anti social personality disorder," said defense attorney Bill Diggs, "but he has a severe case of it because it manifests not only in terms of lying and stealing but killing , I mean if you think you could recognize the rightness or wrongfulness of your conduct would you do it with your family member?"

    Diggs and along with attorney Brana Williams rested their case Sunday after working to convince jurors Stanko was insane when he killed Turner, a Florence County native, in 2005.

    The team brought several of the same mental health experts who testified Saturday back to the stand. Dr. Ruben Gur testified Stanko has damage to his frontal lobe area which causes his brain to be abnormal. He said very few people have this problem, which he said causes them to have a personality disorder that results in having "little regard for others."

    Neurologist Dr. Thomas Sachy, who also took the stand during Stanko's previous trial for the murder of his-live in girlfriend in 2005, said because Stanko has a damaged frontal lobe, it would force someone to act in an "impulsively violent or in a psychopathic manner."

    Sachy backed up his statements by showing the jury Positron Emission Tomography, or PET, scan data analysis he said clearly shows Stanko's brain doesn't function the same way a normal human being’s brain does.

    During cross examination, Hembree asked Sachy whether Stanko knew right from wrong during the time of the killing.

    "He did not understand the moral difference between right and wrong," Sachy said. "Morals aren't something we think about because they are something we appreciate, they are biologically determined, its how your brain works."

    Sachy told the jury he reviewed Stanko's past medical records, including his birth records, through which he concluded that something "bad had happened to him during his birth." He said those records show Stanko had "signs of brain damage and there was a threat that he might die."

    In the absence of the jury, the court heard Stanko speak for the 1st time when John asked him if he will testify during his trial.

    Stanko said he will not.

    During testimony and evidence presentation Saturday, psychiatrist Bernard Albiniak, who also testified Friday, told the jury Stanko “is considered a psychopath."

    Just after 3 p.m. Saturday Stanko's attorneys decided to move forward with an insanity defense. Diggs asked the jury to consider Stanko’s mental state during opening statements Friday.

    "I don't want to say this, and I know it's going to sound wrong to my client because he's a human being, but he’s not healthy, period," Diggs said.

    Crime scene expert Brent Turvey took the stand Saturday and showed the jury several photographs taken at the crime scene where Turner was shot to death in his home.

    Photos showed the gun used, a bloody suitcase and Stanko’s business cards recovered from the truck he stole from Turner’s home.

    Turvey said Turner was killed with a gun that was shot through a pillow found on his bed at the crime scene.

    Police said Turner's murder was only one of many crimes Stanko committed in 1 week. He already received the death penalty for the killing of 43-year-old Laura Ling of Murrells Inlet, a librarian who lived with Stanko.

    Investigators found Ling's body after a teenager, later identified as Ling’s daughter, called police from the home and said she had been raped. They said Turner's murder happened a few days later. A Georgetown jury convicted Stanko guilty of the murder and sexual assault in August 2006. Stanko was sentenced to death soon after his conviction.

    Stanko and his legal team appealed that sentence within a year. His lawyers argued in S.C. Supreme Court the jury wasn't questioned properly and Stanko didn't have a fair chance in court. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled against the appeal and wouldn't allow a new trial for Stanko.

    The appeal process delayed the trial for Turner's death.

    The Stanko case received national attention when a nationwide search for him followed the Turner and Ling slayings. U.S. Marshals tracked him down and arrested him in an Augusta, Ga., shopping center.

    The CBS show television show "48 Hours" also featured the Stanko case in January 2007.

    (Source: WCBD News)

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    Stanko appeals death sentence

    Convicted murderer Stephen Stanko has filed his first appeal to fight the death penalty sentence he received for killing Conway resident Henry Lee Turner.

    Meanwhile, Stanko has asked for post conviction relief for killing girlfriend Laura Ling in 2005.

    No hearings have been scheduled for Stanko, but arguments for a new trial in the Turner case could be heard by early next year, said Bob Dudek, Chief Appellate Defender for the Commission on Indigent Defense.

    The appeal for a new trial in the Turner case is being based on six issues, Dudek said.

    A brief filed on Aug. 26 says that Stanko did not get a fair trial because the judge erred on his instruction to the jurors by charging that malice could be inferred by use of a deadly weapon, Dudek said.

    In the recent case of the State Vs. Belcher, a conviction was overturned because a jury charge instructing that malice may be inferred from the use of a deadly weapon is no longer good law in South Carolina where evidence is presented that would reduce, mitigate, excuse or justify the homicide.

    Attorneys for Stanko said the jury should not have been given that information, since Stankos attorneys were using the insanity defense during the trial.

    There is also a question of whether the same attorneys should have represented Stanko in the Turner case, since he already stated that they provided him inadequate defense in his previous death penalty trial.

    Another issue in the trial is whether a juror should have been dismissed because she knew Stanko had a previous death penalty conviction and had killed two people.

    The judge in the Turner case had the option of moving the trial out of Horry County or pulling the jury from another area, according to Stankos appeal.

    The judge should have not have eliminated people over age 65 from jury duty, Dudek said.

    Those jurors in that age group were given the choice of whether they wanted to serve during the death penalty trial.

    Its an outmoded way of looking at things, saying they didnt have to serve, Dudek said.

    The state now has 30 days to respond to the appeal, Dudek said.

    Stanko will not be present when the issue comes before the S.C. Supreme Court.

    A jury decided in 2009 that Stanko should die for killing Henry Lee Turner in his Conway home on April 8, 2005.

    Stanko was convicted of shooting 74-year-old Turner to death in his Conway home. He then stole his pickup truck and drove to Columbia and then Augusta, Ga.

    Stanko has been on death row since 2006 when he was convicted of murdering his girlfriend, Laura Ling and then raping and nearly killing her daughter, Christina, in their Murrells Inlet home. After that, he drove to Conway and killed Turner so he would have a better getaway vehicle.

    He is also fighting that conviction.

    He has been turned down by the S.C. Supreme Court for a new trial, but has now asked for post conviction relief based on the belief that he had inadequate defense during that trial.

    Stanko is being represented by Myrtle Beach attorney Stuart Axelrod during his appeal for a new trial in Georgetown County.

    Its a pending matter, Axelrod said.

    http://www.gtowntimes.com/local/Stan...09-25T19-54-49

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    Horry County killer Stanko loses second death-penalty appeal

    Stephen Stanko, who prompted a nationwide manhunt after a pair of Horry County killings in 2005, has lost the appeal of the second of his two death sentences.

    The state Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence and conviction of Stanko in the death of Henry Turner.

    Stanko’s attorneys argued a juror should have been disqualified from his second trial because she told the judge she knew the defendant already had one death sentence. They also said the trial should have been moved because of publicity.

    The Supreme Court justices unanimously disagreed with Stanko’s attorneys, upholding an earlier death penalty ruling by circuit court Judge Steven John.

    Authorities say Stanko killed his girlfriend, Laura Ling, in her Murrells Inlet home and assaulted her teenage daughter. He then drove 25 miles to Turner’s home and killed him with a shotgun.

    Stanko has already lost the appeal of his death sentence for killing Ling.

    Authorities say Stanko drove to the home of Turner because he knew him through Ling’s work at an Horry County library. They say Stanko killed Turner and then fled in Turner’s pickup truck.

    In a manhunt that attracted national attention, Stanko eluded police for several days. Yet he made no attempt to hide, flirting with women in a downtown Columbia restaurant and claiming he was a millionaire visiting from New York.

    When he was apprehended at a shopping center in Augusta, Ga., Stanko was clad in a suit and tie, still driving Turner’s truck.

    He had tried to blend in with thousands of tourists in town for the Masters golf tournament, and authorities said Stanko had already persuaded another woman to let him move in with her.

    Stanko was first tried for Ling’s death, with his attorneys arguing that his life should be spared because he has a brain defect and couldn’t tell right from wrong. In 2006, a jury found him guilty, and he was sentenced to die.

    Stanko appealed that verdict.

    Attorneys had argued that he didn’t get a fair trial because the judge wouldn’t let lawyers ask potential jurors what they thought of an insanity defense. But state Supreme Court justices wrote that the jury selection process had been fair.

    In 2009, jurors deliberated for just an hour before handing Stanko a second death sentence for killing Turner.

    Before the deaths, Stanko received attention for a book he wrote about prison life. While serving more than eight years for kidnapping, he co-wrote “Living in Prison: A History of the Correctional System,” with the help of professors at East Tennessee State University.

    Stanko was released in July 2004, less than a year before Ling and Turner were killed. Authorities said Stanko met Ling, a librarian, while finishing his book.

    The Associated Press typically does not identify victims of sexual assault, but in 2007 Ling’s daughter, Christina, asked to be identified. She told the AP then she hoped her story would help other assault victims.

    http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/201...#storylink=cpy
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guest View Post
    The CBS show television show "48 Hours" also featured the Stanko case in January 2007.
    Just watched the episode and it's available for online streaming on CBS.

    Murder on his Mind

    Murder on his Mind
    September 14, 2007 12:33 PM
    Would an intelligent, all-American guy-next-door commit cold blooded murder, theft, assault, and rape for no apparent reason? "48 Hours Mystery" correspondent Troy Roberts reports.

  10. #10
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    In today's United States Supreme Court orders, Stanko's petition for writ of certiorari was DENIED.

    Lower Ct: Supreme Court of South Carolina
    Case Nos.: (27224)
    Decision Date: February 27, 2013
    Rehearing Denied: April 3, 2013
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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