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    1. #31
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      Lawyers get access to key evidence in Stenson retrial

      Orders signed Thursday give attorneys for Darold R. Stenson access to key evidence in his upcoming double-murder retrial.

      The order was signed by Clallam County Superior Court Judge George L. Wood, county Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly and University Place lawyer Blake Kremer, representing Stenson.

      The evidence includes the sweatshirt and bloody pants that Stenson, 60, wore the day in March 1993 that his wife, Denise, and business partner, Frank Hoerner, were killed.

      The two were murdered at Stenson’s Sequim-area Kane Lane exotic bird farm, Dakota Farms.

      The evidence also includes Hoerner’s jacket and the headboard from the room where Hoerner’s body was found.

      Stenson’s defense team also was given access to three containers of records.

      The records include a box of U.S. Bank checks from Dakota Farms, an open bag of financial records and a box of bank records from Washington Mutual Bank — all of which can be copied by Stenson’s lawyers.

      “State will begin copying no later than Aug. 19 at 11:30 and work eight hours (business) per day until completed,” the order states.

      Kitsap County trial

      Stenson’s four- to six-week Kitsap County trial on two counts of aggravated first-degree murder is scheduled to begin with jury selection Sept. 16, little more than four weeks from today.

      Testimony is expected to begin Sept. 23.

      Wood said help would be provided for copying documents to maintain that schedule.

      The trial had been slated for July 8, but a continuance was granted in June till September.

      “We need to get this matter going, and we are down to the last few weeks before going to trial,” Wood said.

      A motion-to-compel hearing by Stenson’s lawyers is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in Clallam County Superior Court.

      If granted, his legal team would have access to “several large (typically four-drawer-high) filing cabinets containing numerous financial documents related to Mr. Stenson’s finances and to the operation and finances of Dakota Farms,” Seattle lawyer Sherilyn Peterson said in the motion she filed Thursday.

      Original conviction

      Stenson was convicted of murdering his wife and Hoerner in 1994 and served time on death row until the state Supreme Court overturned the conviction in May 2012, eight days before his scheduled execution by lethal injection.

      “At Mr. Stenson’s first trial, the state argued that the defendant had a financial motive to commit the murders,” Peterson said in her motion.

      “Notwithstanding the importance of this issue, in 20 years of litigation, no defense counsel has apparently reviewed or inventoried these filing cabinets.”

      Kelly said if the motion-to-compel is granted, “it should not have any impact” on the trial date.

      Port Orchard lawyer Roger Hunko, representing Stenson, said Thursday “we are hopeful” the trial still would begin Sept. 16 if the request is granted.

      Stenson is being held without bail in the Clallam County jail.

      http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/ar...tenson-retrial
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    2. #32
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      Double-murder retrial of former death row inmate begins Monday in Kitsap County

      Accused double-murderer Darold R. Stenson gets his second day in court beginning Monday.

      The former Sequim resident — whose 1994 conviction for killing his wife, Denise, and business partner, Frank Hoerner, was overturned in 2012 — will be retried in connection with their deaths beginning with jury selection at 9 a.m. Monday in Kitsap County Superior Court in Port Orchard.

      A modified change of venue was granted by Clallam County Superior Court Judge S. Brooke Taylor because a Kitsap County jury will pass judgment but he, not a Kitsap County judge, will preside over the trial.

      In his ruling, Taylor cited “substantial” publicity surrounding the 20-year-old case and “inflammatory” statements by public officials.

      Stenson, 60, who once sat on the state's death row in Walla Walla, will be tried on two counts of first-degree aggravated murder in the shooting deaths of his wife and Hoerner at Stenson's Kane Lane exotic-bird farm.

      The state argued he had killed his wife to collect life insurance and murdered Hoerner to avoid paying a debt and to blame Hoerner for his wife's murder.

      A Sheriff's Office investigation showed Hoerner had been beaten, then shot, according to court records.

      Stenson said Hoerner may have shot Denise Stenson, then shot himself.

      His conviction and death-row sentence were upheld by the state Supreme Court in 1997.

      But the court overturned his conviction 12 years later.

      In an 8-1 decision, the court ruled that photographs, including one depicting a Clallam County sheriff's deputy wearing Stenson's bloody pants with a pocket turned inside-out, and an FBI file were “wrongly suppressed” — not provided to Stenson's defense team — until 2009, long after Stenson had been scheduled to be executed.

      “Stenson, in our judgment, has met his burden of showing that there is a reasonable probability that, had the FBI files and photographs been disclosed to the defense, the result of his trial would have been different,” according to the majority opinion.

      Kitsap County will provide a jury pool, a courtroom clerk, administrative support such as photocopying and office space for Taylor and Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly.

      The county Clerk's Office has called 150 more jurors than usual for trials this week due to Stenson's estimated five- to six-week trial, Chief Deputy Clerk Alison Sonntag said.

      “We're just hoping we don't run out of jurors by the end of the week,” she said.

      “The length of the trial is as great a factor as anything because how many people can spend six weeks of their life sitting in a courtroom?”

      Jurors will be paid $10 a day, which will be covered by Clallam County.

      Stenson will be transported to the Kitsap County jail by Monday, where he will be incarcerated for the duration of the trial at no cost to Clallam County.

      Taylor has said he hopes a jury can be selected this week and that opening arguments and testimony can begin Sept. 23.

      Kitsap County Superior Court Administrator Frank Maiocco said Kitsap County will provide whatever administrative support Taylor needs to preside over the trial, including a courtroom clerk and bailiff.

      Clallam County has assigned a jail officer for the trial, Sheriff Bill Benedict said Friday.

      “I have other deputies who are going down as witnesses.”

      Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge said no courthouse law-and-justice personnel he spoke with last week could recall the last time a person was tried for double-murder in Kitsap County.

      But he said the Stenson case did bring to mind the case of Brian K. Lord, who in 1974 as a 13-year-old was convicted of killing his friend's mother and received six months in juvenile detention, then in 1987 was convicted of aggravated first-degree murder and sentenced to death in connection with the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl.

      Lord's conviction was overturned in 1999. He was retried, reconvicted and sentenced to life without parole in 2003.

      “This brings back lots of nasty memories like that,” Hauge said.

      If reconvicted, Stenson, too, would be sentenced to life without parole.

      Kelly said she “feels good” about the trial.

      “But it's a 20-year-old case,” she added.

      “There are lots of problems inherent in that,” Kelly said, citing witnesses' memories.

      Kelly expects to call between 45 and 50 witnesses, and said she expects she will take about four weeks to present her case.

      Lead defense attorney Roger Hunko of Port Orchard has said he intends to call about 40 witnesses.

      He did not return calls for comment Friday.

      Taylor said he has yet to schedule a hearing on a motion filed by Stenson lawyer Blake Kremer to disqualify Kelly from prosecuting Stenson.

      Kremer contended Kelly was not impartial and had a conflict of interest because her mother had written an unpublished book manuscript about Stenson's first trial and Kelly did not disclose it to Stenson's defense until late August.

      Taylor had subpoenaed Kelly's mother for the manuscript.

      Information on if the subpoena had been satisfied was unavailable Friday.

      http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/ar...gins-monday-in
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    3. #33
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      Jury is selected in Stenson double-murder retrial

      A jury was chosen Wednesday for the first-degree aggravated-murder retrial of former Sequim resident Darold R. Stenson in preparation for opening arguments Monday.

      A 12-person panel with three alternates, all of whom are in about their 30s to their 50s, was selected, said Port Orchard lawyer Roger Hunko, representing Stenson, 60.

      Clallam County Superior Court Judge S. Brooke Taylor will consider pretrial motions beginning at 9 a.m. Monday at the Kitsap County Courthouse in Port Orchard before opening arguments, which are expected to begin at about 10:30 a.m. that day, Hunko said.

      Hunko said Taylor will consider defense attorney Blake Kremer's motion to disqualify Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly from the case because of an unpublished book manuscript written by her mother, Sunshine Snyder of Maryland, about Stenson's first trial in 1993.

      Kelly said Wednesday that Taylor had ruled this week that she would not be disqualified but would give Stenson's defense team another opportunity to raise the issue.

      Hunko said Kelly gave him a copy of the manuscript Monday.

      Taylor had subpoenaed it after Snyder had refused to release the copy.

      The trial, which was moved from Clallam County, is expected to take four to six weeks. The defense and prosecution have subpoenaed 102 witnesses combined.

      Stenson, found guilty of murdering his wife, Denise, and his business partner, Frank Hoerner, in 1994, had his death-row conviction overturned by the state Supreme Court in 2012.

      http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/ar...murder-retrial
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    4. #34
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      Jury hears 911 tape in Stenson case

      Jurors on Monday listened to a recording of a 911 call made more than 20 years ago by a man who is being retried on murder charges in the slaying of his wife and a business partner after his original conviction and death sentence was overturned by the state Supreme Court.

      The tape was played on the first day of testimony in the retrial of Darold Stenson, who is charged with two counts of aggravated murder in the 1993 deaths of his wife, Denise, and business partner Frank Hoerner at the Stensons' exotic bird farm near Sequim. Prosecutors aren't seeking the death penalty this time. If reconvicted, Stenson would be sentenced to life without parole.

      In the March 25, 1993 tape, Stenson sounded out of breath and was speaking fast when he told the dispatcher that "Frank just shot my wife, and himself."

      "Hurry, please hurry!" he shouted at one point. Stenson told the dispatcher to hurry several more times, at one point asking, "what's taking so long?"

      Jurors also saw a videotape recorded by a former deputy with the Clallam County Sheriff's Office. The silent walkthrough of the crime scene was narrated for the jury by Jeff Boyd, who is now deputy marshal for the City of Seattle.

      The video was shown out of view of court spectators, but Boyd described for jurors different parts of the house and property, the body of Hoerner in a guest bedroom, and incidents of blood spatter, including the blood stained pillow where Denise Stenson had been laying. Jurors were also shown the revolver found near Hoerner's body.

      During opening statements earlier in the day, Stenson attorney Roger Hunko told jurors police mishandled evidence and didn't follow other leads because "all they were looking for were facts that proved their hypothesis" that Stenson was guilty.

      Clallam County Prosecutor Deborah Kelly said financial pressures had been mounting on Stenson, who was facing pressure from Hoerner, an investor who wanted his money back, as well as making good on a promise to buy the farm where he ran his business and lived with his wife and three children.

      "The evidence will show that the defendant was being squeezed on all sides financially," Kelly said.

      The trial was moved from Clallam County, where the crime occurred. Stenson always has maintained his innocence, and filed multiple appeals to his death sentence. The courts stayed his execution three times, most recently in 2008 when he was less than two weeks from a scheduled execution.

      When Stenson called authorities in 1993 to report the deaths, he suggested that Hoerner had killed Denise Stenson and then shot himself in another room. The Stenson children were sleeping in a nearby room when the shootings occurred. Prosecutors have said Darold Stenson shot the two to collect $400,000 in life insurance and to silence Hoerner, who had wanted back the money he had invested with Stenson for ostriches.

      Hunko noted that Stenson called 911 while his wife was still alive, and asked them to hurry.

      "What murderer would call while his wife is still alive if he was the person who shot her?" he asked.

      Hunko also raised the idea of Hoerner's wife's involvement, telling jurors they'll hear testimony about odd behavior exhibited by Hoerner's wife, also named Denise, before she knew her husband was dead, including showing up wearing only a robe to a house where the Stenson children were taken.

      Denise Hoerner is expected to testify during the trial, which is expected to take several weeks.

      In May, the state Supreme Court reversed Darold Stenson's 1994 convictions, citing the withholding of evidence from the defense by prosecutors. The high court said the state "wrongfully suppressed" photographs that raised questions about mishandling of evidence, as well as an FBI file that wasn't provided to the defense until 2009, years after Darold Stenson was convicted.

      Darold Stenson has been held without bail while awaiting the new trial.

      One of the four witnesses called to testify on Monday included Christopher "Kit" Eldredge, who had initially bought the farm that Stenson lived on. Eldredge said the purchase was made as an investment opportunity, and that Stenson and his family lived there while making rent payments, with the understanding that Stenson would eventually buy the property when he was financially able to.

      Eldredge said he had sought to accelerate Stenson's purchase of the property because he was pursuing another business opportunity and that Stenson said he'd have the money soon.

      A week after the deaths, Eldredge said he learned that he was the beneficiary on Denise Stenson's life insurance policy. He said that he was surprised to receive the money, but said he felt that the right thing to do would be to deed the property to the Stenson family, which he did in 1994.

      http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/cri...al-4836234.php
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    5. #35
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      Jury deliberates in retrial of 1993 double killing

      A Kitsap County jury began deliberating Thursday on the evidence presented in a six-week retrial of a Sequim man for the murders of his wife and business partner in 1993.

      The jury was left with “overwhelming” evidence to convict Darold “D. J.” Stenson, according to Clallam County’s top prosecutor.

      Stenson’s lead attorney countered that the case “reeks of reasonable doubt.”

      Stenson, 60, is charged a second time with first-degree premeditated murder in the shooting deaths of his wife, Denise Stenson, and business partner, Frank Hoerner, at Stenson’s exotic-bird farm near Sequim.

      His 1994 conviction was overturned by the state Supreme Court in May 2012.

      The high court remanded the case back to Clallam County for a new trial.

      Last April, Clallam County Superior Court Judge S. Brooke Taylor granted a defense motion for a modified change of venue because of publicity surrounding the case over the past 20 years.

      Defense attorney Roger Hunko of Port Orchard and Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly gave closing arguments Wednesday, focusing on forensic evidence, demeanor evidence and motive.

      “I think closing arguments are particularly important in light of the amount of evidence in this case,” Taylor said.

      Jury deliberations began at about 11 a.m. Thursday after Kelly gave a rebuttal argument.

      Deliberations will resume Monday.

      Hunko said the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stenson committed the murders.

      But Kelly said Stenson had “every motive in the world to make this look like a murder-suicide.”

      “He has a grievance with Frank because Frank’s pressing him for money that he doesn’t have, or birds which he doesn’t have the money to get,” Kelly said.

      “He is in need of money, and his wife has $530,000 worth of insurance on her life if you add up all of the policies.”

      She added: “Frank is the perfect fall guy.”

      Hunko played a recording of the 9-1-1 call that Stenson placed from his wife’s bedside at about 4 a.m. March 25, 1993.

      “Frank just shot my wife and himself,” Stenson told the dispatcher:

      Later in the call, he could be heard shouting, “Please, hurry! Hurry!” and, “What’s taking so long?”

      Denise Stenson was found alive in her bedroom with a gunshot wound to her head. She died later that day.

      “If Mr. Stenson was as cold-blooded as the state would have you believe, he would have put another cap in her,” Hunko told the jurors.

      “He would have killed her before he called 9-1-1.

      “If he did it, she’s a witness.”

      Hoerner was found shot to death in the downstairs guest room.

      Kelly said Stenson had motive because of mounting financial pressures.

      He was “toying with the notion of bankruptcy” and being pressured to purchase the Kane Lane farm where he ran his business and lived rent-free with his wife and three children.

      Witnesses testified that Stenson convinced Hoerner and others to pay him for ostriches that were never delivered.

      On the night before the shootings, Stenson told Hoerner to come to the farm to sign insurance applications for ostriches he planned to purchase in Texas.

      Hoerner’s wife, Denise Hoerner, testified last month that her husband made arrangements to sign the paper early the next morning on his way to work.

      Frank Hoerner, who caught an early ferry every morning to work as a carpet layer in the Seattle area, left his residence at about 3:30 a.m. and arrived at the Stenson residence about five minutes later.

      Investigators alleged that Stenson shot his wife and then attacked Hoerner with a martial arts weapon, dragged him into the guest room and shot him in an effort to portray a murder-suicide.

      “I don’t think anybody could ever really know what happened at the Stenson residence on March 25, 1993,” Hunko said.

      “The state’s evidence is all jumbled up.”

      Hunko, who was critical of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office investigation and the state’s handling of the evidence, cast Denise Hoerner as a possible alternate suspect.

      “She had motive, and she and Frank weren’t getting along,” Hunko said.

      “[The investigators] thought they had Mr. Stenson, and they weren’t looking any further.”

      Hunko displayed a 1993 photograph of former Sheriff’s Sgt. Monty Martin wearing Stenson’s blood-spattered jeans with a front pocket turned inside-out.

      The blood samples were cut out and destroyed after being tested at an FBI lab.

      The state Supreme Court overturned Stenson’s original conviction on the grounds that his rights were violated because the state wrongfully suppressed evidence, including photographs of the jeans.

      “This was a very, very serious crime,” Hunko said.

      “We know that Denise Stenson was killed by somebody. The question is by whom. I don’t think we’re any closer to that than when we started here on the 16th of September.”

      Based on his interpretation of the evidence, Hunko said Denise Hoerner or someone else may have committed the murders. He noted that the state had the burden of proof to show that Stenson was the killer.

      “There is not enough evidence to find Mr. Stenson guilty of these crimes,” Hunko said.

      Kelly said Stenson was “distracted” and changed his story in follow-up interviews with sheriff’s detectives.

      “The bottom line is that anybody who is cold-blooded enough to kill their spouse and a friend while children are sleeping mere feet away is cold-blooded enough to fake a particular demeanor,” Kelly said.

      Not plausible

      Kelly said it was “not plausible” that Denise Hoerner killed her husband or Denise Stenson because of the timing of the events.

      “It makes no sense,” she said.

      “She’s got to worry about encountering the defendant if she’s planning to visit to seize this opportunity and kill Frank that morning. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of any animosity towards Denise Stenson. In fact, she regarded her as a best friend.”

      Kelly said Darold Stenson had “every opportunity” to plant bullets that were found in Frank Hoerner’s driveway, van and the front pocket of his jeans.

      “The only way this makes sense is if the defendant committed these crimes,” Kelly said.

      “The physical evidence points to him. It points to him strongly.”

      Stenson spent 14 years on death row and was eight days away from being executed by lethal injection when a judge issued a stay of execution in November 2008.

      If reconvicted, Stenson would face life imprisonment without parole.

      He is being held without bail in the Kitsap County jail.

      http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/ar...double-killing
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    6. #36
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      No verdict yet in double-murder retrial in Kitsap County

      The jury is still out in Darold Stenson’s double-murder trial in Kitsap County.

      Deliberations began Oct. 31 and continued through last Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday without a verdict.

      The jury, which does not meet Fridays and has Monday off for Veterans Day, will resume deliberations at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly said.

      Stenson, 60, is charged with two counts pf first-degree premeditated murder for the shooting deaths of his wife, Denise Stenson, and business partner, Frank Hoerner, on Kane Lane near Sequim on March 25, 1993.

      Stenson’s 1994 conviction was overturned by the state Supreme Court in May 2012 and remanded back to Clallam County for a new trial.

      Clallam County Superior Court Judge S. Brooke Taylor granted a modified change of venue in which he is presiding over the case in Kitsap County Superior Court in Port Orchard.

      The Kitsap County jury, which was selected Sept. 18, is considering six weeks of witness testimony and nearly 600 exhibits.

      Jury views videotape

      Last Monday, the jury reviewed a videotape walkthrough of Stenson’s exotic-bird farm taken shortly after the shootings, a Clallam County sheriff’s sergeant’s audio interview with Stenson and another video walkthrough of the Stenson residence, Kelly said.

      The jury was silent for the remainder of the week, she added.

      Stenson is being held without bail in the Kitsap County jail.

      In closing arguments Oct. 30, Kelly said the jury had “overwhelming” evidence to convict Stenson of two counts of murder.

      She argued that Stanson killed his wife for insurance money and shot Hoerner because he owned Hoerner money. She also said he tried to make the killings appear as through Hoerner committed a murder-suicide.

      Defense attorney Roger Hunko of Port Orchard said the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stenson committed the crimes.

      Stenson spent 14 years on death row and was eight days away from being executed by lethal injection when a judge issued a stay of execution in November 2008.

      If reconvicted, he would face life imprisonment without parole.

      http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/ar...-kitsap-county
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    7. #37
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      Jury finds Stenson guilty: 2 counts of aggravated 1st Degree Murder

      (Port Orchard) – A Kitsap County jury this afternoon found Darold Stenson guilty of two counts of aggravated First-Degree Murder in his retrial in Port Orchard.

      Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict says deputies will be transporting Stenson back to the Clallam County Jail, where he will await sentencing by Superior Court Judge Brooke Taylor within 2 weeks.

      Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty in the retrial of Stenson, who has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder in connection with the slaying of his wife, Denise, and a business partner, Frank Hoerner, at the Stensons' exotic bird farm.

      The trial was moved from Clallam County, where the crime occurred.

      Last May, the state Supreme Court reversed his 1994 convictions, citing the withholding of evidence from the defense by prosecutors.

      The high court said that the state "wrongfully suppressed" photographs that raised questions about mishandling of evidence, as well as an F-B-I file that wasn't provided to the defense until 2009, years after Stenson was convicted.

      The trial was moved to Kitsap County due to publicity in Clallam County.

      http://www.konp.com/local/9180

    8. #38
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      Sentencing today for Sequim double killer

      A former Sequim man today will be sent back to prison for life without parole for the double killings of his wife and business partner more than 20 years ago.

      Clallam County Superior Court Judge Brooke Taylor will sentence Darold Stenson in Port Angeles.

      Stenson was found guilty a month ago in his retrial for murdering his wife, Denise, and a business partner, Frank Hoerner, at the Stensons' exotic bird farm near Sequim.

      In May 2012, the state Supreme Court reversed Stenson's previous 1994 convictions, citing the withholding of evidence from the defense by prosecutors.

      He had been sentenced to death in his first trial. Prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty this time. The trial took seven weeks and was moved to Kitsap County due to high publicity in Clallam County.

      http://www.konp.com/local/9255
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