Killer sentenced to life without possible parole

December 21, 2018

IRONTON - A 38-year-old South Point area man will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole after he was convicted this week of aggravated murder, kidnapping and tampering with evidence.

Russell L. Adkins, of County Road 1, South Point, was convicted Wednesday in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court. He was sentenced Thursday by Judge Charles “Chuck” Cooper to serve life in prison for the murder and kidnapping of Larry Scott Stephenson, 54, of the Chesapeake area.

Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson recommended a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole for Adkins.

Roger Smith, a Huntington lawyer representing Adkins, asked that the defendant be eligible for parole after serving 20, 25 or 30 years in prison.

Dian Kelley, the victim’s sister, called Adkins evil.

“I pray you never rest,” she said prior to final sentencing in the case.

“Our family had never heard of you,” she said of Adkins, but now know “that evil does exist. You entered Larry’s house and took his life. I bet you felt powerful and in control when you tied him up and left him to die. You are the definition of evil.”

Anderson agreed that the facts and circumstances of Stephenson’s death “are heart-wrenching.” He said the victim, dressed only in T-shirt and shorts, was left in an abandoned house tied hand and foot after being severely beaten in his own home.

“This was tragic,” Smith said of the kidnapping and killing. “It went by quickly. He snapped. I ask the court to consider something less than life without parole.”

Adkins, given a chance to speak prior to sentencing, said the victim “was a $700-a-month drunk.” He also said Stephenson disparaged the child of a co-defendant daily. “Bigotry should not be tolerated.” Adkins said the teenage girl will be traumatized by the action of Stephenson.

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.

Adkins told the jury earlier this week he didn’t intend to kill the victim.

Cooper said the life sentence is mandatory in aggravated murder cases. The judge also said the murder and kidnapping charges merge for sentencing purposes. He also sentenced Adkins to three years for tampering with evidence for taking Stephenson to the abandoned house where he wasn’t found until a day or more after he was reported missing.

Adkins said he would appeal the verdict. Cooper said he would find a new lawyer to handle the appeal as quickly as possible.

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