Man accused of beating grandfather to death, attacking mother fo - | WBTV Charlotte

Man accused of beating grandfather to death, attacking mother found guilty

Rowan Sheriff's Office Rowan Sheriff's Office

Jeff Steen, the Rowan County man accused of beating his grandfather to death with a garden hoe then attacking his mother and leaving her for dead was found guilty in Rowan County Superior Court on Tuesday. 

The verdict came after more than two full days of deliberation and the jury coming back several times with additional questions and requests to take a second look at evidence.

The trial has lasted for three weeks and has included more than 300 exhibits.

While taking the stand in his own defense, Jeff Steen denied the assaults in court on Friday.  

Prosecutors pressed Steen about his money problems saying that he killed his grandfather in order to inherit the man's farm.

When asked by the prosecutor if killing his grandfather would relieve him of a $500 loan that he owed and eliminate his other money problems, Steen replied "my grandpa is worth a lot more than $500 and a farm."

Steen is charged with murder, attempted murder, and robbery with a dangerous weapon.  Rowan Sheriff's investigators said Steen killed his grandfather, J.D. Furr, 87, and attempted to kill his mother in November 2013.

Sandra Steen survived the attack and has been in court for each day of the trial.

According to the Rowan County Sheriff's Office, 911 operators got a call from Steen around 8:15 a.m. on November 6, 2013, asking for help at a home along the 6200 block of River Road in Richfield.

Steen told investigators then that he had found his grandfather and mother in the driveway and yard area behind the home.

During Steen's testimony on Friday, he was asked repeatedly about scratches that had been noticed on his forearms in the days following the incident.  Prosecutors said that Steen had told ten different stories as to how he got the scratches.  

During closing arguments, Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook pointed out that there were only three people present at the Furr farm on the night of the incident. She told the jury that the facts don't support the possibility that a random person committed the crimes.

“This was a very personal and vicious attack," Cook said.  "And if you’re just a random robber, you don’t bring a weapon with you?  You don’t bring a gun n and shoot people?  You’re going to grab a garden hoe that you wouldn’t know would be on the farm?  And that's what you're going to use to kill 87-year-old J.D. Furr?"

Cook also questioned the explanation Steen gave for scratches on his arms and an injury to his lip that he claims happened while he was working.

"These heavy tools fell down at Norandal and somehow bounced on the ground up into the air, it happened to hit him on the inside of the front of the top of his upper lip," Cook said.  "I didn't know tools that weigh 15-20 lbs each that are metal could bounce up like that."

Darrin Jordan, representing Jeff Steen, said that the state had failed to satisfy the burden of proof in the case, pointing out that Steen's DNA was not found on the garden hoe.

"Jeff Steen is not here to deny that his grandfather was murdered. Jeff Steen is not here to deny that someone beat his mom in the back of their farm, he's not here to do that.  What he's here to do is to tell you about why the state of North Carolina hasn't met their burden of proof," Jordan said.  "And I would tell you, ask you, to find Jeff Steen not guilty of these charges because the state has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he's the perpetrator of these crimes," Jordan said.

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