HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Stephen Marc Stone's capital murder case began Monday, almost six years to the day that his wife and son were found murdered in the family's home in South Huntsville.
The stakes couldn't be higher for Stone, who could face the death penalty if he's convicted of killing his wife, Krista, and 7-year-old-son, Zachary.
Stone's lawyers plan to argue he was insane at the time of the killings and didn't know right from wrong.
"One of the defenses that we've asserted is that our client was not competent to commit the crimes at the time of the defense,” defense attorney Brian Clark said Monday. “He was suffering from a serious mental disease or defect that prevented him from appreciating the wrongfulness of his actions.”
Concerns about Stone's mental state delayed the trial, he was briefly deemed incompetent to stand trial, but prosecutors are confident.
“He did know right from wrong and really, that's the standard that we're going to be dealing with when you're talking about a mental defense and we are seeking the death penalty in this case,” said Tim Gann, chief trial attorney for the Madison County District Attorney’s Office. “What we have to do is present our side of the case and at the end of our case then they will present their case as to whether or not he was insane at the time.
“So, it's kind of a two-part process. It's their burden to prove that he was insane, and it's our burden to prove that the events actually happened.”
A hearing Monday on use of crime scene photos by the prosecution forced Stone to stare at a number of photos of the fatal injuries to his wife and son.
The defense Monday also withdrew its motion asking Circuit Judge Donna Pate to throw out Stone's confession.
A panel of 90 jurors was called for the case. They filled out a long questionnaire asking about mental illness and the death penalty. Jurors were excused for the day after they completed the forms.
The courthouse is closed Tuesday and jury selection is expected to resume Wednesday morning. Madison County Circuit Judge Donna Pate told the attorneys on both sides to use Tuesday to review the questionnaires filled out by the jury pool.
The jury panel will be whittled down from 90 people to 12 jurors and 4 alternates. Prosecutors expect to open their case before the week ends.