Opening statements began Thursday in the capital murder trial for Stephen Marc Stone.
Stone is charged with killing his wife and son, 32-year-old Krista Stone and 7-year-old Zachary Stone, inside their south Huntsville home on Feb. 24, 2013.
Authorities say Stone strangled the victims. The trial was pushed back several times for mental evaluations of Stone, and he was found competent to stand trial but is pursuing an insanity defense.
Stone's son, Zachary, was a first grader at Mountain Gap Elementary School when he was murdered, the state says. Stone's 2-year-old and 4-year-old daughters were in the house at the time of the murders, according to Tim Gann, the chief trial attorney for the Madison County District Attorney's Office. He says the family planned for Stone's family to visit on that day.
The state says Stone got up the morning of Feb. 24 and went for a drive after leaving a note for his wife. Gann says the three kids and wife spent the day together, and Stone returned home around midnight. The state says Stone got in bed with his wife, Krista, who was upset that he had left that day. Gann says they moved to another room, continuing to talk while sitting on the couch and that he then attacked her.
Gann says Stone went for Krista's throat, holding her down on the couch and that, at some point, he adjusted and put her elbow on her neck while she was clawing, fighting and scratching, pleading for help. The state says Stone crushed her neck, killing her there on the couch.
According to the state, Stone got up and walked to the far end of the house where Zachary was sleeping. Gann says Stone walked over to his son, covered his face and attacked him, too. The state says he went for his neck and began to choke him, but didn't kill him there. They say he then stopped because the child started having convulsions.
Gann says Stone walked into the bathroom, turned the water on and closed the drain. While he was drawing the water for the bath, the state says he grabbed Zachary and plunged him into the water, holding him under. The state says Zachary was alive when he hit the water and fought back, but was not a match for his dad. Gann says Stone left him dead in the bathtub.
The state says Stone then got his wife off of the couch, took her back to the bedroom and laid her down. They say he then put Zachary in clothes and shut him in his bedroom.
According to the state, the next day, Stone drove to his parents' house and dropped his daughters off. They say he took his mom's car and drove to the police station, where he admitting to killing his wife and child in Huntsville. Officers were dispatched to the home and found the wife and son deceased.
Gann says Stone had no history of mental illness when the murders happened and that his lifelong friends never expected he was mentally ill. He says he held jobs and functioned normally.
The state believes there is evidence of Stone's dissatisfaction in the marriage, like pornography use, Krista being the leader of the family and her outshining Stone. Gann says the state believes Stone was depressed and unsatisfied with his life.
According to Gann, the defense has to prove to the jury that Stone was suffering from a severe mental disease or defect at the time he committed the murders and prove it was severe to the point he didn't know right from wrong.
Larry Marsili with the defense says Stone is not guilty by reason of mental defect. He says the defense agrees with about 95 percent of what the state said and that a large part of the trial is not in dispute.
Marsili says the case is not about the killings but instead what happened in Stone's mind when it happened. The defense is arguing that Stone suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was undergoing this when the murders happened.
16 jurors were seated Thursday for the trial including four alternates. The jury pool consists of nine women and seven men. The death penalty is a possible sentence if Stone is found guilty of capital murder.
WAAY 31 will continue to follow the trial and provide updates.
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