Chesterton Tribune

Six year sentence for Valpo man in fatal domestic violence incident

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The Valparaiso man whose ex-wife was killed by a ricocheting bullet fired by a police officer in an apparent hostage crisis in April 2007 has been sentenced to six years in the Department of Correction.

Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa sentenced Timothy Stephens, 54, to eight years, two of them suspended and to be served through the Department of Probation, after Stephens pleaded guilty to intimidation, a Class C felony punishable by a term of two to eight years.

In exchange for Stephens’ plea, two other counts, criminal confinement and domestic battery, were dropped, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mike Drenth told the Chesterton Tribune today.

On April 10 Valparaiso Police were dispatched to Stephens’ home at 1210 Fairlane St. after a relative had called 911 and advised a dispatcher that Stephens was threatening to kill his wife, Marilyn Stephens, 74, and that he might be armed with a handgun.

Officers arrived at the scene at 7:05 p.m., determined that a hostage situation was in progress, and secured the perimeter.

A short time later Officer Daniel Koepke made contact with Marilyn Stephens as she opened the front door and instructed her to move away from the house.

At this point, the Porter County Sheriff’s Police said in its investigation of the incident, Timothy Stephens came to the door armed with a handgun and made several death threats against his ex-wife and police.

He was then reported to have pointed his handgun in a threatening manner and Koepke responded by firing two rounds at him, the PCSP said.

One of those rounds ricocheted off a vehicle parked between Koepke and Timothy Stephens and hit Marilyn Stephens in the chest. She was rushed to Porter hospital but later pronounced dead.

The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office subsequently determined, based on the PCSP report, that Koepke was justified in using deadly force “and that the death of Marilyn Stephens due to a ricochet was an unintended and tragic consequence of the otherwise legally justified action.”


Posted 5/5/2008