On Monday, June 23, 38-year-old William Chance Stephens of Benld, IL was sentenced to 142 months to 270 months in prison for his role in the stabbing death of Trey Yarbrough in Paw Paw in October of 2013.
According to Mlive.com, Stephens was charged with one count of open murder in the death, which is believed to occurred after the two men engaged in an argument about Yarbrough stealing money from Stephens. Detective Sgt. Kevin Conklin testified in court that the two men got involved in a verbal altercation at the Lakeside Inn. He went on to say that Stephens admitted to stabbing the victim. Paw Paw police found Yarbrough, who was 20 years old, with multiple stab wounds. He was found at a gas station located across the street from the Lakeside Inn.
Stephens was ultimately found guilty of manslaughter after his defense attorney requested that the judge in the case, Circuit Judge Kathleen M. Brickley, allow jurors to consider the lesser offense. He will serve a minimum of 11 years in prison.
In Michigan, an individual charged with open murder may be tried for first- or second-degree murder, determined by the jury. A conviction for first-degree murder would have left the defendant in this case facing life in prison. Manslaughter, whether voluntary or involuntary, leaves the defendant facing up to 15 years in prison along with substantial fines. Other factors that may affect sentencing include the defendant’s criminal history.
This story is just one example that shows why it is so important for anyone accused of a serious or violent crime to work with a skilled criminal defense attorney. Even someone charged with murder may escape lifetime imprisonment in some circumstances. While no one wants to face manslaughter charges or any criminal charges for that matter, most individuals would certainly prefer to spend 11 or 15 years behind bars when compared to the rest of their lives.
No matter how serious the situation may seem, there are legal options and strategies that can help those in a bad situation reach a better outcome. A seasoned Michigan criminal defense lawyer knows how the criminal justice system works, and how to use any mistake or opportunity to the client’s advantage. Ultimately, the goal is to have charges dismissed, or secure a not guilty verdict. However, when this is not possible a qualified lawyer will explore every possible option in order to secure positive results.