Jury recommends life without parole for Huntsville man who murdered wife, son

Marc Stone killed his family members inside their south Huntsville home in 2013
(Source: WAFF)
Updated: Feb. 6, 2019 at 10:22 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A Madison County jury says the Huntsville man who brutally killed his wife and son in their home should spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Nine of the 12 jurors recommended that punishment for Marc Stone over the death penalty on Wednesday after hours of deliberations. Madison County Circuit Judge Donna Pate will take that recommendation into consideration and will issue a final order on Stone’s sentence in the coming weeks.

The victims’ relatives spoke to the media after hearing the outcome of the case.

“The term I use is bittersweet. It’s a relief to have it finished. It’s a verdict I thought they should have reached but it’s tough to see the man you once entrusted to take care of your daughter be convicted as well,” said David Kowalsky, the father and grandfather of the victims.

The prosecution and defense also provided comments to reports coming out of the courtroom.

“Obviously, we’re saddened by the verdict this week. After six years, it’s hard to come to a conclusion like that. But with the verdict this afternoon, with his life being spared, we feel fortunate in that aspect for our client,” said Brian Clark, one of Stone’s defense attorneys.

“With what he did, that man never needs to walk the streets again and he won’t and justice has been served,” said Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard.

Stone, 39, was found guilty of capital murder Tuesday after jurors deliberated less than 2.5 hours.

On Wednesday, the sentencing phase got underway. It functioned like a mini-trial with opening statements, testimony and then closing arguments before the jury started deliberations.

The state sought the death penalty. The defense asked for life in prison without the possibility of parole.

A photo of Stone with his son shown in the courtroom
A photo of Stone with his son shown in the courtroom(Source: WAFF)

Tim Gann, chief trial attorney for the Madison County District Attorney’s Office, said: “This capital case was especially heinous, atrocious and cruel compared to other capital murder cases.”

Krista was 32 when she was strangled to death in the couple’s house on Chicamauga Trail in February of 2013. Stone then went to the bedroom of his seven-year-old son, Zachary, and choked him 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 says he was psychotic at the time of the crimes and doctors diagnosed him with schizophrenia.

He underwent treatment at a state mental hospital and a judge deemed him competent to stand trial last summer. His trial started last week at the Madison County courthouse.

Larry Marsili, a member of Stone’s defense team, stressed to the jury that Stone has no prior criminal history or convictions and was under the influence of extreme emotional or mental disturbance at the time of the murders.

“It was a factor that he didn’t know that he was doing,” he said. “A dedicated family man, worked hard to provide for them, served in his church, a good son, a good brother. There is still redeeming quality in Marc from this point on.”

Marsili asked them to spare Stone’s life and told them that life without parole in prison is still a just sentence in this case.

Kathy Kowalsky, Krista’s mom, took the stand to describe the impact the loss of Krista and Zachary has had on their family.

“Absolutely devastating,” she stated. “We didn’t believe at first that it had happened and the way that they said it did. It’s turned our lives upside down.”

Krista was the oldest of six children and it was too hard emotionally for some of her siblings to attend the trial.

Krista Stone
Krista Stone(Source: Kowalsky Family)

As for Zachary, she pointed out that he was her first grandchild and loved very much.

“It’s devastating to think that we never got to have any more time with Zach and that his sisters won’t really remember him,” Kowalsky added.

The Stone girls, who were two and four at the time, are being raised by Krista’s father and stepmother and they’re “doing really well,” Kowalsky told the court.

Zachary Stone
Zachary Stone(Source: Kowalsky Family)

Dr. Carol Walker, a clinical neuropsychologist was next on the stand for the defense.

She interviewed Marc for 20 hours, as well as his parents, sisters, friends, and coworkers.

She learned that he grew up in a close family of devout Christians, with no history of abuse or substance abuse or criminality.

There were no negative events in his upbringing except for the fact that the family moved around a lot because of his father’s job in education. He is very close to his mother and his dad is his best friend.

He was last employed at Crestwood Medical Center in the janitorial service.

He has no recorded history of mental health treatment.

Walker said that if sentenced to life in prison without parole, there would be no risk factors with Stone because he has no history of violence other than the crime which he has been convicted of. He has shown no behavioral disruption or violence in jail or at the state mental hospital.

“He has a low likelihood of engaging in serious violence in the Department of Corrections,” Walker said.

She added the Stone has expressed guilt and remorse for the murders in their interactions.

Gann told the jury that they don’t have an easy task, but it’s not complicated.

“This, at its very core, is deciding good and evil. It’s not an easy task to deal with evil acts but it is necessary. There were some evil acts done and today is the day we deal with it. I hope you’re tired of excuses because there is none,” Gann stated.

A photo of Stone with his son shown in court
A photo of Stone with his son shown in court(Source: WAFF)

Gann said back when the crimes happened and Stone confessed to police, he showed no remorse and provided a “matter of fact description of what he did and almost a sense of pride.”

“He laid the whole thing out. And said he said he felt free afterwards,” Gann added.

On that deadly night, the state says Krista was “fighting for herself and fighting for her children as well.” The jury saw photos of scratches on Stone as well as photos from the crime scene and autopsies.

“He robbed Krista of her two girls as well, robbed her of motherhood, robbed her of time with her children to watch them grow and flourish. He snuffed that out on that couch and we was free,” Gann said.

Zachary would be a teenager now but he’s not, Gann told the jury, calling what happened “heinous and cruel, shocking evil acts, outrageously violent.”

“Think about Krista sitting on the couch and out of nowhere, he’s at her throat, holding her down. She’s fighting and pleading with Jesus to help. Marc ain’t having it. He’s going to get the job done. He uses his hands and elbow and squeezes and pushes. He crushed her neck,” Gann said. “Think about the fear going on in her mind. She can’t breathe. He adjusted his grip.”

With Zachary, the prosecution says at any point after his wife’s murder, he could have stopped doing what he was doing, but he didn’t. Zachary was convulsing when Stone put him in the tub. He had bruises on his knees and elbows.

“Today is the day that there’s an accounting for that evil behavior. This evil can’t stand There’s nothing they can put on the scale that outweighs the lives of Krista and Zach,” Gann added. “The appropriate sentence in this case is death.”

Marsili told the jury that life in prison without parole is a not a “free pass” and urged them to consider all of the information in the case. Stone, he stressed, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He is medicated and monitored in jail.

“All indications are that if Marc is given the opportunity to live instead of die, that he could function in the prison system,” Marsili said.

He asked the jury to give Stone’s daughters the chance to decide of they want to have a relationship with him.

“It’s a compelling enough reason for him to get life without parole,” he said.

Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard spoke to the jury last before they started their deliberations.

“You wiped two people off the face of this planet like they were nothing,” Broussard said of Stone. “The horror of that night is inescapable…At every second, he had chance to turn it around and he didn’t,” Broussard said, asking them to sentence Stone to death.

They started deliberating in the penalty phase Wednesday afternoon.

In 2017, Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill ending the state’s one-of-a-kind practice of allowing judges to sentence a person to death when a jury has recommended life imprisonment. Alabama was the last state in the country to allow judges to override a jury when sentencing capital murder cases.

But the Stone case happened in 2013, before that law was in place.

Marc and Krista met a church function in Dothan in the late 1990′s. Then, about a year after she graduated from Northside Methodist Academy, they married. In Huntsville, both worked at the same hospital.

Krista’s relatives have missed out on a lot without her and Zachary in their lives over the past six years.

“We do have fond memories, all of us do. But we didn’t want memories. We wanted experiences,” her father said.

“She was good and pure and kind. She loved her family. She loved her children. She loved her husband and all she wanted in return was to be loved,” her mother added.

They encouraged other families to embrace the opportunities they get to experience together.

“Spend as much time with your loved one as you can. We’re not promised tomorrow. I think we’re all trying to live to honor Zach and Krista as much as we’ve wanted to,” Kathy Kowalsky added.

Copyright 2019 WAFF. All rights reserved.