A woman whose sister was fatally shot in 2015 testified Monday that she found her sister outside their Decatur bakery bleeding, and another witness in the trial of capital murder suspect Roger Dale Stevens testified despite testing positive for COVID-19.
Stevens, 68, is charged with killing his ex-wife, Kay Letson Stevens, 64, at the Corner Bakery and Eatery on Somerville Road on Nov. 14, 2015, the day after their divorce decree was filed. In the opening day of the Stevens trial, several witnesses who were passing by the scene at Somerville and Eighth Street Southeast testified that they saw the shooting take place.
The case is being presented to a jury of 10 men and six women, which includes four alternates.
Brenda Suggs of Priceville, Kay Stevens’ sister, testified she encountered Roger Stevens outside the bakery when he drove up to the business as she was headed to the bank in her sister’s car.
“He told me he was going to kill Kay,” Suggs said, and he showed her a gun. “Roger, you’ll go to jail,” she told him, and then he responded: “I’m too old to start over. She got everything” in their divorce decree. The couple had been married for 42 years.
Suggs testified that she returned to the business, got out of her car and saw a black gun with wooden handles on Stevens’ car seat. He grabbed the gun and jumped out of his car to “go after her,” Suggs said. “I said, 'Kay, he has a gun.'”
Suggs said Roger Stevens fired a shot before entering the bakery, and Suggs headed to the front of the building. “I heard two more shots for sure,” Suggs said. When Suggs reached the front of the bakery, she saw her sister on the ground in the parking lot.
She spoke again to Roger Stevens as he headed to his car to leave.
“'What did you do to my sister?'” she testified. “'You killed my sister, why didn’t you kill me?'”
Suggs said Stevens pushed her and said, “You didn’t do anything.” Suggs said she returned to check on her sister as others called 911. Kay Stevens was taken first to Decatur Morgan Hospital, then to Huntsville Hospital, where she died during surgery.
Before the testimony of Johnny Lowery, a former Decatur police crime scene technician, Howell told jurors that he was “a necessary witness for the state,” and had tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week or so. She said that “out of an abundance of caution,” jurors would be seated in the courtroom gallery.
Johnny Coker, an investigator with the Morgan County District Attorney’s Office, said in the courtroom before a lunch break that Lowery is “four days past (virus) symptoms.”
Ron Smith, one of Roger Stevens’ attorneys, objected to Lowery testifying, referring to his client’s age and health issues. Circuit Judge Jennifer Howell, who is presiding over the case, overruled the objection.
Lowery, who wore a plastic face shield, said he responded to the shooting call and, as he testified, jurors were shown photographs of blood on a concrete curb stop in the bakery’s parking lot and a “defect” in the front glass door, believed to be from a gunshot fired from inside the business.
Lowery, who had collected Kay Stevens’ blood-stained clothes, showed jurors the victim’s pants, which had a bullet “defect” in them, and her shirt, which had one “defect” in the front and one in the back.
He testified that no weapon and no shell casings or bullets were found at the scene.
Lowery also testified that Roger Stevens’ personal car, a gray Toyota Camry, was found in the parking lot of a trucking company in the Huntsville city limits where Stevens worked. He said he found Stevens in an 18-wheeler there, drew his weapon and ordered Stevens to show his hands and exit the vehicle, but Stevens went into the sleeping section of the truck.
Lowery said that when he asked Stevens what could be done to peacefully resolve the situation, Stevens said: “Take me to the hospital so I can cut her throat and finish what I started.” No weapon was found in either vehicle.
In earlier testimony Monday, Andrew Sanford, a federal police officer who lived in Decatur at the time, said he was driving to his home and heard what appeared to be a gunshot. When he looked to his left, he saw a woman come out of the front door of the bakery, followed by a man.
“She fell to the ground,” said Sanford, who testified that he saw a revolver. “He walked up to her and shot her.”
Sanford said the man went back inside the building, then came out a side door, got in a car and drove away.
Sanford pulled his vehicle into the parking lot and stayed with the woman, trying to comfort her, until the paramedics arrived. At one point, Sanford said, the woman asked if she was going to die. When he asked who shot her, the woman said, “my ex-husband.”
“She was definitely injured” and bleeding, Sanford testified.
Another witness, Tina Cox, was heading to Target from her home when she saw a woman coming out of the front door of the bakery, followed by a man. Cox said she pulled her car into a doctor’s office parking lot to call 911.
“You could tell they were in an argument,” Cox said. “He began hitting her. He pulled out a gun from his pocket and shot her in the chest multiple times.”
Stanley Martin, a Decatur firefighter and paramedic who responded to the shooting call, testified that he found the victim in a fetal position on her side in the parking lot. He said she had wounds to her head, face, back, right leg and abdomen, and she appeared to have a gunshot wound to her abdomen.
She was at first unconscious and breathing slowly, then regained consciousness, asking him, “Is this a dream?” He told her she had been shot, and she told him, “My husband shot me.”
In his opening statement, District Attorney Scott Anderson said that Stevens, who was angry about the divorce settlement, “loved property more than (Kay Stevens’) life so he killed her.”
“We ask you to listen to the evidence and hold your judgment” until the end of testimony in the trial, Smith said to jurors in his opening statement. “We believe the evidence will show he did not commit capital murder.”