Charles Stephenson case: Man accused of brutal beating death due back in court for more testimony

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. - The trial of Charles Stephenson — the man charged with beating an Aurura, Ind., resident to death in her apartment kitchen — will continue Thursday morning with more testimony in the case.

Opening statements started Wednesday in the Dearborn County Circuit Court when prosecutors explained the murder was motivated by money.

Stephenson is on trial for killing 67-year-old Leigh Jennings in her Aspen Ridge Drive home on March 29, 2012. Police say the suspect used a pepper grinder and a frying pan as murder weapons.

After Jennings' death, police said Stephenson stole $1,000 in cash from Jennings to repay a debt to one of his family members. Coroner's reports also stated Jennings received multiple skull fractures that resulted in her death.

The defense at Wednesday's trial argued Stephenson had no motive to steal from, or kill, Jennings, stating he could have just declared bankruptcy. Additionally, Stephenson's defense asserted police were dishonest "from the get-go" with their investigation.

Prosecutors called Jennings' neighbor, Brian Doss to the stand, where he testified about finding Jennings' body on April 5. Worried about Jennings, Doss said he received permission from Jennings' son to enter her home through a window.

It was in the home that Doss said he smelled a rotting odor and found Jennings' body on the kitchen floor.

Stephenson's trial began Monday with jury selection.

If convicted, Stephenson could either be given a prison term of up to 115 years or be sentenced to death.

Stephenson is also the nephew of Bill and Peggy Stephenson. The couple, both 74, was killed inside their Florence home on May 29, 2011.

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