Stephen Marc Stone was convicted of capital murder today in the 2013 Huntsville slayings of his wife and young son.
A Madison County jury found Stone, 39, guilty in the choking death of 32-year-old Krista Stone and the choking and drowning death of 7-year-old Zachary Stone.
Prosecutors will seek the death penalty when the sentencing phase of the trial begins Wednesday morning.
The jury will issue an advisory verdict on whether Stone should face execution or life in prison without the possibility of parole. The final sentencing decision is up to Madison County Circuit Judge Donna Pate.
The jury deliberated for around two hours Tuesday afternoon.
“This is a difficult case and we’re very happy with the work the jury put in,” Gann said. “It’s been almost six years since it happened. There were times we didn’t even know if we would get here.”
Defense attorney Larry Marsili said it’s a “difficult day” when a client gets a guilty verdict.
“But you know going in it’s a possibility,” Marsili said. “It doesn’t take the sting out of it or make it any easier to deal with.”
Jurors on Tuesday morning heard about two and a half hours of closing arguments from prosecutors and the defense.
Stone pursued an insanity defense. The jury had three choices for the verdict: guilty, not guilty or not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
“Even though this is not a run-of-the-mill murder case, it’s not legal insanity,” said Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard in closing arguments.
The jury heard testimony from several witnesses, including defense experts who determined Stone was insane at the time he killed his wife and young son. The defense argued that because he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, Stone isn’t legally accountable for the killings.
Defense attorney Brian Clark in closing arguments asked the jury to put their heads over their hearts as they considered the evidence. Clark said there wasn’t motive for Stone to kill his wife and son.
But Madison County Chief Trial Attorney Tim Gann told the jury that Stone hated his life and was angry with his wife when he committed the killings. Gann said the Stone marriage was in trouble, and there was evidence Marc Stone was addicted to pornography. He said Stone had no history of mental illness.
“That’s not a compulsion,” Gann said. “That’s called motive.”
Stone killed his wife and son in February 2013 — a fact that the defense didn’t dispute. Stone confessed to police that he committed the killings. Gann said Stone told police “something broke inside of me,” and that after the killings he “felt free.”
Before the February 2013 killings, the Stone family was expecting Marc Stone’s parents to come for a visit from their home in Leeds. But Marc Stone left home that day, leaving only a note that he was going for a drive. Marc Stone returned home around midnight — after his parents were gone.
That’s when, prosecutors say, Krista Stone wanted answers about where her husband had been that day, and the couple argued.
Stone strangled his wife to death on the couch in their Chicamauga Trail home in southeast Huntsville. Stone then went into the bedroom of his sleeping 7-year-old son Zachary, a first-grader at Mt. Gap Elementary. Stone covered the boy’s face and grabbed his neck. Zachary started convulsing, so Stone when into the bathroom, plugged the tub and turned on the water, prosecutors said. Stone held his son’s head under the water and killed him, Gann said.
The morning after the killings, Marc Stone took the couple’s two other children — ages 2 and 4 at the time — and drove to Leeds, where his parents lived. He eventually went to the Leeds Police Department to report he’d killed his wife and son in Huntsville.
Huntsville police went to the Stone home on Feb. 24, 2013 and found the bodies of Krista and Zachary lying covered, next to each other in bed.
Marc Stone was convicted of two counts of capital murder — one for killing a child younger than 14 and a second count for killing two or more people.