The South Carolina Supreme Court will decide if death row inmate Stephen Stanko will be granted a new trial for one of the murders he committed in 2005.
On Thursday, attorneys for the 44-year-old man convicted of two murders — one in Georgetown County and one in Horry County — argued their case in the state’s high court Thursday.
They are appealing Stanko’s conviction of the murder of Henry Turner, a 74-year-old man found dead in his Conway home in April 2005. He has been sentenced to death for that killing.
Stanko was also given a death sentence for the stabbing death of his girlfriend Laura Ling. She was killed in the Murrells Inlet home they shared.
The appeal was filed in September 2011.
Stanko’s attorneys say he should be given a new trial in Horry County case because a juror should have been dismissed since she knew Stanko had a previous death penalty conviction and had killed two people.
The judge in the Turner case had the option of moving the trial out of Horry County or pulling the jury from another area, but chose to hold the trial in Conway.
“This case was the most infamous and widely publicized case in Horry County that appellant is aware of, and if ever a case called for a change of venue it was this case,” Stanko’s attorneys wrote.
It’s unknown when the court will issue a ruling.
Stanko is accused of leaving the Murrells Inlet home in Ling’s car after killing Ling and brutally attacking her daughter.
He drove to the home of Turner — a man both Stanko and Ling knew. He shot him and stole his truck which he used to make his getaway from the area.
After an intensive manhunt, Stanko was captured — after spending several days partying — in Augusta, Ga.
In November 2008 the Supreme Court denied a motion to hear an appeal Stanko had requested for the Georgetown County crimes.
By Scott Harper
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