Thursday, January 31, 2008

Michael Leigh Stephens - child molester guilty of attempted murder

It didn’t take a Delaware Circuit Court 4 jury long on Wednesday — 12 minutes, to be exact — to find a Muncie man guilty of attempted murder in the stabbing of his former girlfriend.

Michael Leigh Stephens, 31 — already serving a 12-year prison term for a 2007 child molesting conviction — will face up to 50 years in prison when he is sentenced by Judge John Feick on Feb. 25.

In addition to attempted murder, a class A felony carrying a standard 30-year prison term, the jury also found Stephens guilty of aggravated battery, a class B felony with a standard 10-year sentence at the conclusion of the three-day trial.

On the witness stand, Stephens insisted he never intended to kill the mother of his children despite repeatedly stabbing her with a pocket knife after he had been drinking.

The attack occurred at the couple’s home in the 1800 block of East 15th Street last June 1 when the victim came home from work after Stephens, a stay-at-home dad, had been taking care of their two children, ages two year and three months, respectively.

Stephens told jurors that he “just could not take it any more” when a frustrating day of caring for his “fussy, crying” baby was followed by an argument with his girlfriend.

In September 2006, the Muncie man had been arrested for having sex with a 12-year-old girl. Stephens told police he thought the child was as old as 17.

He later pleaded guilty to child molesting, a class B felony, and was sentenced last October to 12 years in prison by Circuit Court 2 Judge Richard Dailey.

Stephens was out on bond in the molesting case when the stabbing occurred. Jurors in this week’s trial did not hear about Stephens’ criminal history, which also includes convictions for driving while intoxicated in 2004 and 1998, along with battery and possession of marijuana, both in 1998.

When arrested, Stephens told police he had blacked out during his argument with his girlfriend due to drinking several beers, and claimed he had little memory of the assault.

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