South Point man pleads not guilty by insanity in 2017 slaying

August 4, 2018

Russell L. Adkins, of South Point, is facing charges of aggravated murder, kidnapping and tampering with evidence.

IRONTON - A South Point man facing charges of aggravated murder, kidnapping and tampering with evidence in connection with the death last year of a Chesapeake-area man changed his plea Wednesday in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court to not guilty by reason of insanity.

The case against Russell L. Adkins, 38, of County Road 1, South Point, had been set for trial Aug. 28 in Ironton. However, Judge Charles “Chuck” Cooper agreed to put the case on hold pending the outcome of determination whether Adkins is competent to stand trial.

Cooper ordered a competency evaluation for Adkins, according to court officials. He is charged with severely beating Larry Scott Stephenson, 54, of Chesapeake, putting him in a pickup trunk and then leaving him in an abandoned house. Authorities subsequently found Stephenson’s body bound hand and foot. Adkins is charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping and tampering with evidence.

A co-defendant in the case, Brandy N. Miller, 34, of Township Road 1079, Chesapeake, pleaded guilty earlier this year to complicity to murder and was sentenced to life in prison. She won’t be eligible to see a parole board until spending at least 20 years behind bars.

In an unrelated case, Frank J. Thacker, 54, of Township Road 1034, South Point, rejected a plea offer of 25 years in prison on multiple rape charges in 1999 and 2018, according to Jeff Smith, an assistant Lawrence County prosecutor.

Thacker was charged with three counts of rape, two counts of kidnapping and single counts of abduction and burglary on charges he broke into the home of a female acquaintance Feb. 10 while armed with a gun.

He subsequently was indicted on charges of rape and kidnapping in a 1999 case. Those charges are three counts of rape, one count of kidnapping and one count of abduction. The case has been unsolved for 19 years. The charges were filed after DNA tests were made in the 2018 case.

Judge Andy Ballard has a trial set on the 2018 charges for Aug. 27. Charges from the 1999 case are set for Nov. 7.

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