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Video shows Stansell changing his story after deadly stabbing

Benden Rex Stansell

The prosecutor rested the state’s case against a second-degree murder suspect after showing video interviews of him changing his story.

The second-degree murder trial of Brenden Rex Stansell, 21, continued Thursday in Jackson County Circuit Court for the third day of proceedings.

Deputy District Attorney Lucy Durst presented a second video interview with Stansell after he fatally stabbed Matthew James Joseph Stephens, 23, with a 26-inch-long Steampunk Gun Blade Sword.

Video interviewing done by the Jackson County sheriff’s deputies showed Stansell’s had modified his story and the order of events. Durst used her opening statement Tuesday to indicate that Stansell’s statements had been inconsistent.

At one point, Stansell was shown telling investigators that he stabbed Stephens immediately after the man’s dog attacked him.

After one of the investigators pointed out the inconsistencies, Stansell then said the dog attack had occurred earlier and that he stabbed Stephens from the bed of his truck while Natasha Carson and Stephens sat in the cab preparing to use methamphetamine.

Stansell consistently has denied using meth the day of the alleged murder.

Carson, whose testimony began Wednesday and continued Thursday, had brought the sword on the trip to the Elderberry Flats area. Stansell said he was to be paid to drive Carson and Stephens to the site of an abandoned trailer, where they had heard weapons were .

Carson brought the long blade. Another friend, identified only as “Tony,” sold it to her after obtaining in a “smash and grab,” she said on separate occasions during testimony.

Defense attorney Peter Carini asked one of the investigators, Scott Waldon, why Carson hadn’t been charged with any crime because it has been alleged that she assaulted, robbed and kidnapped Stansell after believing he stole a gold medallion from her.

“I’m sure there was some sort of altercation,” Waldon said.

He also said Carson’s accounts of the events “were all over the place.”

Carson returned to testify Thursday on including personal information and to answer questions about the incident, such as the dog attack occurring earlier in the trip. Carini also asked about her prior statement about not knowing how to read.

She said she could use a dictation program and have her phone read messages to her.

Deputy State Medical Examiner James Olson, who conducts about 300 autopsies a year, said the homicide "involved a deep stab wound with a very unusual instrument.” Olson explained.

Olson explained how Stephens’ fatal injury appears to have been made and answered other questions about various marks on Stephens’ body. While abrasions were found on Stephens’ face and chin appeared to be fresh and likely to have occurred close to the time of his death (before or after), investigators still didn’t know how they happened.

Durst rested her case Thursday. The trial was scheduled to go for four days, expected to be given to the jury on Friday.

Carini showed video of the trip the trio made and highlighted some locations where they stopped. The video was shot about a week ago and showed the area were remote and the road rough even though a campsite and some homes are located in along the route.

Carini said Stansell may testify. Stansell’s father is scheduled to appear and the case investigator, Steve Bohn, will be recalled.