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December 2, 2012

Accused Benzie killer could soon be on trial

BEULAH — BY ART BUKOWSKI

abukowski@record-eagle.com

An accused killer could soon be bound over for trial.

Benzie County authorities believe Deshawn Stanton shot and killed his wife, Stephanie Stanton, 28, in a Homestead Township residence May 6. His preliminary examination on an open count of murder began Nov. 29 and is expected to continue Monday in Benzie District Court.

A preliminary examination is held to determine if there is enough evidence to send a case to trial. If there is, District Judge Nancy Kida could bind the case over to Circuit Court as early as Monday.

More than six months have passed since Stephanie Stanton died, and plenty in the Benzie County community are anxious to see resolution to the case.

"I think everyone's surprised at how long it's taking to get to Circuit Court for trial," Benzie Sheriff Rory Heckman said.

Sherri Gatrell, Stephanie Stanton's mother, said she's eager to see Deshawn convicted.

"All we want is justice," she said. "I can't get her back, though."

The case has taken a long time to proceed, but Gatrell is fine with that as long as it means the prosecution is building a solid case.

"If it takes longer, that's fine, as long as it's done right," she said.

Deshawn Stanton has adamantly professed his innocence to the court and the Record-Eagle in a pair of letters. His father, Larry Stanton, said Stephanie gave strong indications that she planned to kill herself shortly before her death.

Authorities aren't so sure. The gun involved was a long gun, Heckman said, which is difficult to use in a suicide. And when a medical examiner took a look at Stephanie's body, he determined the wound that caused her death was fired from a far enough distance away to rule out suicide.

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