Madison County DA’s office seeking death penalty in two upcoming murder trials

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Stephen Marc Stone with one of his attorneys. (Photo: Gregg Stone, WHNT News 19)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Madison County District Attorney’s office will be seeking the death penalty in two cases that are set for trial in the next few months.

Stephen Marc Stone is set to go on trial March 6 on capital murder charges in the February 2013 killings of his wife, Krista Stone and their 7-year-old son, Zachary.

Richard Burgin has a May 1 trial date in the May 2013 stabbing deaths of two elderly brothers, Terry and Louis Jackson. The two men were volunteering at a church food bank when they were fatally stabbed.

Tim Gann, chief trial attorney for the Madison County DA’s office, said the state is seeking the death penalty for Stone because of the nature of the offense.

“It happened in their home, the basic facts were he came home late one morning, he and his wife Krista had words, and he strangled her in the living room,” Gann said. “And then went into his son Zachary’s bedroom, as he was sleeping, and strangled and then drowned him in the bathtub.”

The couple had no history of domestic violence, Gann said.

“As a parent you can’t imagine doing this to any child, much less your own. So we are … we are definitely seeking the death penalty in this case,” he said.

Stone is represented by court-appointed attorneys Brian Clark and Larry Marsili. Gann said he expects the defense to use an insanity defense – that Stone was suffering from a mental disease or defect that left him incapable of telling right from wrong at the time of the offense.

Marsili said the defense is still working on its trial strategy. Stone appeared disturbed at a hearing a year ago, rocking back and forth and paying little attention to the proceedings.

Burgin’s trial had been set for September, but has since been moved back to May 1.

Madison County Assistant DA Jay Town said the killing of the two brothers at West Huntsville United Methodist Church on May 21, 2013 meets the state’s definition of “heinous, atrocious and cruel.”

“It was operated by two brothers, Terry and Louis Jackson,” Town said. “And Mr. Burgin is accused of coming into that church early, prior to the kitchen opening, and literally slaughtering these two brothers in a very heinous way.

Town said the manner of their deaths justifies seeking the death penalty for Burgin.

“They did so slowly and with fear of impending death,” he said.

Unlike in the Stone case, where he admitted the killings to investigators, Burgin maintains his innocence.

Defense attorney Larry Marsili, who represents Burgin with co-counsel Chad Morgan, said the defense is straightforward.

“Mr. Burgin has been very clear from the beginning that he didn’t commit the crime and that he denies that he had any involvement in it, and that’s why we’re going to forward on trial with this,” Marsili said.