BURLINGTON, Ky. - A Boone County grand jury has indicted Charles Robert Stephenson on two charges -- tampering with evidence and drug trafficking of oxycontin.
Stephenson, 58, is considered a person-of-interest in the Aurora murder of Leigh Jennings last month and of his aunt and uncle, Bill and Peggy Stephenson, in Florence last year.
Aurora police have determined Jennings died of multiple skull fractures on or about March 29, a Thursday. That's the date which marked the beginning of the tampering with evidence, according to documents filed with the Boone District Court Clerk. Her body was discovered by a neighbor seven days later.
Bill and Peggy Stephenson were killed over Memorial Day weekend last year.
Nobody has been arrested for any of the murders, although Aurora police said last week they have an unnamed suspect in their case.
Friends of Jennings said she had known Stephenson for some time, possibly from cutting hair at Young's Barber Shop in Florence. In fact, they said he often came to dinner twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays. They also mentioned that she either had loaned or was going to loan Stephenson money. That's important since he was under a court order to repay $3,700 to his aunt, Fay Sparks of Florence.
Sparks is the sister of Bill Stephenson. Her attorney, David Steele, said that Stephenson was supposed to pay $500 a month until the debt was erased, but there were several checks that bounced and had to be replaced by money orders. Sparks, 84, had incurred a penalty for early withdrawal from her IRA.
Steele said the last payment he received from Stephenson was the morning of March 30, the day after police say Jennings was murdered.
Wednesday's indictment means there won't be a preliminary hearing in Boone District Court next Monday as had been previously scheduled.
Stephenson was arrested last Friday after he was released from St. Elizabeth Health Care in Florence. He pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday.
Public Defender Steve Florian had hoped to use that hearing to gain more information on the charges and try to lower Stephenson's bond from $50,000 to something he considered more reasonable. Florian said Tuesday that he thinks a bond of $2,500 is more reasonable in the case, since he considers the charges “minor allegations.”
Now that the matter is in Boone Circuit Court, Florian said he can use discovery motions to find out more about the Commonwealth's case.
An arraignment date hasn't been set.
Stephenson remains at the Boone County Jail.
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