Washington man again found guilty in 1993 slayings

Stenson convicted of killing his wife, business partner

By

Published:

 

PORT ORCHARD — A Washington man whose original murder convictions and death sentence were overturned last year was found guilty on Tuesday of killing his wife and her business partner on the Olympic Peninsula 20 years ago.

A Kitsap County jury convicted Darold Stenson, 60, on two counts of first-degree premeditated and aggravated murder in the 1993 slayings of Denise Stenson and Frank Hoerner at Stenson's exotic bird farm near Sequim, the Peninsula Daily News reported.

"Justice has been done," Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict said.

Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly, who argued the case, said: "We have an outstanding jury who worked very, very hard."

The jury reached a verdict after six days of deliberations and a six-week trial. The 60-year-old faces life in prison without parole when he is sentenced Dec. 10 in Clallam County Superior Court. Kelly had said in 2012 that she would not seek the death penalty in Stenson's retrial.

Stenson spent 14 years on death row and was days from execution on in Walla Walla when a judge issued a stay of execution in November 2008. The state Supreme Court reversed Stenson's 1994 convictions in May 2012 and ordered a new trial, saying prosecutors withheld evidence from defense attorneys.

At trial, Kelly argued that Stenson killed his wife for insurance money and shot Hoerner over debts.

In his closing argument, lead defense attorney Roger Hunko said the state didn't prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Stenson always has maintained his innocence, and filed multiple appeals to his death sentence. The courts stayed his execution three times, most recently in 2008.

Clallam County Superior Court Judge S. Brooke Taylor granted a partial change of venue and presided over the trial in Port Orchard.