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Man found guilty in Chesapeake murder

December 20, 2018

IRONTON — A man was convicted Wednesday of aggravated murder, kidnapping and tampering with evidence and faces a life in prison, according to Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson.

Russell L. Adkins, 38, of County Road 1, South Point, took the witness stand Wednesday in his own defense and admitted kidnapping and assaulting Larry Scott Stephenson, 54, of Chesapeake, at his home about a year ago.

Adkins told the jury he didn’t intend to kill the victim. His lawyer, Roger Smith, a Huntington attorney, argued for an involuntary manslaughter verdict to be put before the jury. It was, but the panel rejected it.

Judge Charles “Chuck” Cooper, who presided over the three-day trial, set final sentencing in the case for 11:15 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, in Ironton. The jury deliberated about two hours before returning a verdict in the case.

Anderson said Adkins came to Stephenson’s home, severely assaulted him and kidnapped him in the process of murdering him.

“He hogtied him, took him to an abandoned house and left him there to die,” Anderson said.

He said the victim was dressed only in shorts and a T-shirt when he was left in an abandoned house on a cold December night last year.

Stephenson wasn’t found until several days after the assault, Anderson said.

Anderson said he would ask for a sentence of life in prison for Adkins.

Shane Hanshaw, an agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Identification, testified Monday that Stephenson was alive when he was left in the abandoned house and tied hand and foot.

“He died there,” said Hanshaw, a former Lawrence County sheriff’s deputy.

A co-defendant, Brandy N. Miller, 34, who lived with Stephenson, pleaded guilty to complicity to murder earlier this year and was sentenced to life in prison. She won’t be eligible to see the parole board for 20 years.

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