CONWAY, S.C. — A man facing two death sentences after a pair of South Carolina killings in 2005 filed papers Monday seeking a new trial.
In a motion for post-conviction relief, Stephen Stanko argued that his lawyers failed to properly defend him during a trial over the death of 74-year-old Henry Turner, according to The Sun News of Myrtle Beach.
Authorities said Stanko, who was apprehended at the Augusta Exchange shopping center in April 2005, killed his live-in girlfriend, 43-year-old Laura Ling, in her Murrells Inlet home and assaulted her teenage daughter. He then drove 25 miles to Turner’s home and killed him with a shotgun.
Stanko, 45, was convicted of murder in 2006 and sentenced to death for killing Ling. Three years later, he received the same verdict and sentence after a trial in Turner’s death. The state Supreme Court has upheld both convictions. No hearing date has been scheduled on Stanko’s new request.
Stanko, who is representing himself, said in his motion that his trial attorneys failed to present evidence that jurors had been prejudiced by widespread publicity before his second trial.
Stanko also said those lawyers also failed to present mitigating evidence during the sentencing phase of his trial but didn’t state what mitigating evidence was available.
In a manhunt that attracted national attention, Stanko eluded police for several days. He made no attempt to hide, flirting with women in a downtown Columbia restaurant and claiming he was a millionaire visiting from New York.
When he was apprehended in Augusta, Stanko was clad in a suit and tie, still driving Turner’s truck. He had tried to blend in with thousands of tourists in town for the Masters Tournament, and authorities said Stanko had already persuaded another woman to let him move in with her.