HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A day after he was convicted of killing his wife and 7-year-old son, a Madison County jury recommended life in prison without parole for Stephen Marc Stone.
Nine members of the jury voted for life in prison, and three voted for the death penalty in Stone's case.
Rob Broussard, Madison County District Attorney, said, "We were hoping for a different result."
But Brian Clark, Stone's defense attorney, responded, "We feel fortunate in that aspect for our client." He added, "It's unimaginable what has happened here and there are obviously no winners here."
When the sentencing phase of Stone's capital murder trial began Wednesday morning, Attorney Larry Marsili made his case for sending Stone to prison for life.
"It has already been a tragic situation," Marsili said. "There are already two deaths involved in this."
It took a Madison County jury about two hours Tuesday to reach a decision and convict Stone for the 2013 murders of Krista and Zachary Stone. Prosecutors said Stone strangled his wife and choked and drowned his son in a bathtub at their home after an argument.
Marsili pointed to Stone's lack of a criminal past as a factor jurors should consider and said that at the time of the killings, Stone was under extreme emotional or mental disturbance and didn't have the capacity to understand the crime.
Marsili called a neuropsychologist who interviewed Stone as a witness. Dr. Carol Walker testified that Stone has always expressed guilt and remorse for what he had done. He also called a boyhood friend of Stone's, Mike Farmer, who testified that Stone was a loving father who was loved by his children.
Prosecutors called Krista Stone's mother as a witness, who said the loss of their daughter was devastating and turned their family's life upside down.
In his closing argument, assistant district attorney Tim Gann said Krista and Zachary were gone because evil exists in the world, and there are no excuses for evil behavior.
“When I think about Krista, when he attacked her, what was going through her mind...think about how she fought," Gann told the jury. "She did the best she could. I would argue that she is not only fighting for herself but for her children as well.”
Judge Donna Pate did not set a date for Stone's sentencing, but she could still sentence Stone to death. Alabama stopped letting judges override jury recommendations in 2017, but the ban is not retroactive. Since Stone's case began before the ban, Pate still has the power to operate under the "judicial override" model.