Judge: No bond reduction for murder suspect
by Rachel Davis
Jun 29, 2012 | 2803 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
James Randall Stephens’ request for bond reduction was denied by District Judge Larry Lapkovitch on Thursday. He is currently being held in the Walker County Jail on a $350,000 property bond for a murder charge in the shooting of his son on May 5, 2012.

Attorneys for the defendant called the bond excessive and asked that the judge reduce the bond to $150,000, with behavioral provisions including surrendering his guns. They also cited the support of family, community and church members in court and his lack of a prior felony record as reasons to consider the reduction. The attorneys also said the defense will be based on their belief that this was an accidental shooting committed under the influence of alcohol, rather than an intentional shooting.

The prosecution opposed bond reduction on the grounds that, based on his statements to police, he was inclined to “commit suicide by cop.”

Lapkovitch said he found sufficient probable cause to bind the case over to the grand jury before denying the bond reduction.

On May 5, James Stephens, 52, and his son, Blake Stephens, 26, went on a fishing trip together. That trip would end at the home of the senior Stephens on Doliska Road in Dora.

There, the men reportedly argued over possession of a .32 caliber revolver before Blake Stephens was shot in the chest outside the home. Dora Police Chief John Duchock testified the preliminary autopsy report indicated the fatal shot was fired from a second gun, a .30-30 rifle.

Blake Stephens’ common law wife, Mandy Mickel, took the stand Thursday, and said she heard three shots. She was in the house and did not see any of the shooting.

She said that James Stephens then came into the house where she was and told her that he had shot his son. She testified that she went outside to the back, where her husband’s body was, then called 911 and hid in the bushes until police arrived at the instruction of the dispatcher.

According to Duchock, who arrived on the scene after other Dora officers secured the scene, alcohol was involved in the incident. He also called the defendant combative and incoherent after the incident.

The prosecution called two witnesses, Duchock and Mickel, during the hearing. The defense questioned both witnesses, but did not call any of their own.