MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -A Huntsville man has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing his wife and son in 2013 inside their home.
Marc Stone was found guilty back in February and convicted of two counts of capital murder. The jury recommended the sentence of life in prison without parole over the death penalty, and Madison County Circuit Judge Donna Pate upheld their recommendation.
On Friday morning during his sentencing hearing, Stone spoke to the court saying, he had given his punishment a great deal of thought and had “would be at peace” with the judge’s decision if he were to receive the death penalty.
“Anytime you have a case like this, it’s a difficult situation for everyone involved. We appreciate the judge’s sentence on the case, that’s certainly what we were hopeful for, notwithstanding Mark had what he wanted to say and I think that’s just the toll of an individual whose has to come to the realization of what he’s done,” said Larry Marsili, one of Stone’s defense attorneys, after the hearing.
Tim Gann, chief trial attorney for the Madison County District Attorney’s Office, added: “It’s been over six years and there were times when we didn’t even think we would get to this point or even get to a trial, much less a conviction and sentencing. It’s been a long haul on all the families involved and all of the attorneys on both sides so I’m glad today is here and that we’re where we’re at right now.”
Stone also said he was sorry for the double murder.
“I’m glad he is. I hope that is the truth. I hope that’s sincere. It would be so much worse if he wasn’t. It does give me some comfort to know that he realizes what he did and that he feels some remorse and hopefully it’s honest and genuine,” Gann said.
Stone’s defense team pointed out that while they appreciated Stone’s ability to address the court, they continue to maintain that he suffers from mental illness, which also impacted his ability to determine the criminality of his actions back in 2013 when the killings took place.
The state did not present additional testimony or evidence on Friday, reiterating to the judge that the crimes were “heinous, atrocious and cruel” and they deferred to the court’s judgment.
Marsili spoke during the hearing, pointing out that Stone has no prior criminal history and that Stone remains under the influence of extreme mental and emotional disturbance.
“It’s clear that he was suffering from a mental disease and condition, schizophrenia, that impacted his ability to determine the criminality of his actions. Prior to this event, Marc was hardworking family man who supported his family with multiple jobs at times, and attended church. He was a good son, a good brother. He also made the decision to confess to the crimes to law enforcement the following morning and was cooperative,” Marsili said.
Marsili also pointed out that Stone had the opportunity to end his daughters’ lives because they were in the house at the time, but he spared them and took them to his parents’ house so they wouldn’t be exposed to the crime scene.
Since being properly medicated, Marsili says Stone has adjusted in a positive manner and conformed his behavior in a structured setting.
“Marc loved his wife and family. There was no evidence of any serious marital problems, no domestic violence, no police calls to the home,” Marsili told the court.
Brian Clark, another member of Stone’s defense team, also asked the judge to consider that Stone has had a significant mental health issue, and that he’s taking medication for it.
Judge Pate weighed all of the evidence, the jury’s recommendation, applicable law, and sentenced Stone to life in prison without parole. He has 42 days to file appeal in the case.
Krista Stone’s parents were present for the sentencing hearing.
Her mother, Kathy Kowalsky, said the outcome brought her mixed emotions, because Stone was her son-in-law. She also pointed out that he apologized to the court, but not to her and Krista’s father. They were sitting across from him in the courtroom.
“My heart aches,” she said. “But I am glad that he will never get out of prison.”
Stone’s defense lawyers argued during his trial that he was legally insane at the time. His legal team brought in experts who shared their findings that he was unable to understand what he was doing and couldn’t distinguish right from wrong due to schizophrenia.
“He’s able to function to the extent that you see him function in court because he’s medicated. There was a time when he wasn’t. When these crimes happened, he wasn’t medicated. He wasn’t even diagnosed at that point. There’s not going to be a day that goes by that he doesn’t think about his wife and son and the family that he’s lost, in addition to them,” Marsili said Friday.
Stone strangled his wife, Krista, and strangled and drowned the couple’s 7-year-old son, Zachary. Huntsville police found the bodies inside the family’s home on Chicamauga Trail in south Huntsville on Feb. 24, 2013.
Krista was the mother of three children, including Zachary, a 2-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old daughter. Zachary was in first grade at Mountain Gap Elementary.
Stone killed his wife first, then went to his son’s bedroom and choked Zachary until he started convulsing. He then drowned the little boy in the bathtub and placed both bodies in bed together. In the morning, he dressed his two daughters, who were in the house at the time of the killings but left unharmed, and drove to Leeds, AL, dropping the girls off at his parents’ house. Then he drove to the Leeds Police Department and confessed.
The case has progressed over the past six years as different mental evaluations were done on Stone. He underwent treatment at a state mental hospital and a judge deemed him competent to stand trial last summer.
Stone was having delusional thoughts at the time of the double murder. His attorneys attributed it to his paranoid schizophrenia.
When asked by police why he strangled his wife, Stone said he “just had the urge” to.
When investigators asked Stone why he killed Zachary, Stone said he “felt he had to.” He also said he didn’t find it was necessary to kill his daughters. Stone then stated to investigators that he, “felt free,” after the murders.
Stone’s daughters are being raised by relatives. Tim Gann said he hoped the sentencing brought some peace to the victims’ family.
“They’ve got two little girls to take care of and that’s all they want to focus on moving forward,” he added. “Life without truly means life without. It’s going to be death by prison, not lethal injection. That’s the most important thing when you’re trying a capital case because that verdict seals the deal. To know that they’re never going to get out of an Alabama prison and they’ll spend the rest of their days there, that’s the main goal.”