Originally created 08/22/06

Juror says victim, photos crucial to Stanko verdict



MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - Photos from the scene of a brutal murder and the brave testimony of a teenage rape victim were the keys to Stephen Stanko's conviction, one juror said.

Ryan Izzard, 31, of Choppee, said he and his fellow jurors did not buy Mr. Stanko's defense that he had brain damage and a mental disease that caused him to kill Laura Ling and rape a 15-year-old girl.

The same jury recommended that Mr. Stanko, an ex-convict who had co-written a book about life in prison, be executed for his crimes.

"It got harder" during the sentencing phase, said Mr. Izzard, a sales and service representative for a uniform company. "We really had to search ourselves ... (but) we really couldn't see any other way.

"The things that he did and the way that he did it."

Mr. Stanko led police on a nationwide manhunt in April 2005 and was arrested in Augusta.