2006-10-15 23:55:34 UTC
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - A woman who was convicted in 2003 of killing her
husband, a prominent Hattiesburg heart surgeon, has died in a prison
hospital, officials said.
Stephanie Stephens had been imprisoned at the Central Mississippi
Correctional Facility in Rankin County since being convicted of murder
in the death of Dr. David Stephens.
Officials said she died of pneumonia on Saturday.
Stephens was convicted of the May 1, 2001, death of Stephens, 59.
Investigators said she put a lethal dose of anesthetic drugs into Dr.
Stephens' insulin pump. Dr. Stephens was a diabetic and had hepatitis.
Her 2003 trial was one of the most sensational ever in Forrest County.
It was widely covered by the media, including CBS News' "48 Hours"
program, which aired a lengthy segment on the murder and the trial. It
was the first major trial in Mississippi in which cameras were allowed
in the courtroom.
Because of the publicity surrounding the murder, a jury was selected in
DeSoto County and brought to Hattiesburg to hear the case.
Stephanie Stephens - then known as Stephanie Tate Kennedy - was a nurse
who had worked with David Stephens at Forrest General Hospital. They
began an affair, even though both were married.
After learning of the affair, his wife, Karen Stephens, shot herself
and later died.
David Stephens and Stephanie Stephens were married in 1996, a little
more than a year after Karen Stephens' death and shortly after she
divorced her husband.
Three weeks after Dr. Stephens' death, test results from blood taken
from his body were returned from the State Crime Lab that showed he had
a significant amount of Etomidate, an anesthetic, in his system.
Police began an investigation and his body was exhumed.
In July 2002, autopsy test results revealed the presence of Atracurium,
a drug used to paralyze muscles during surgery.
Stephanie Stephens was charged with her husband's murder on Sept. 12,
During her trial, prosecutors argued that Stephens killed her husband
for his money. Dr. Stephens' estate was estimated to be around $3
But defense attorney Ray Price tried to convince the jury that Stephens
had killed himself. But after a week of testimony, the jury took a
little more than two hours to convict her.