Thursday, 01 December 2022

Stevens convicted of first-degree murder

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Andre Stevens was convicted for first-degree murder Wednesday in the stabbing death of John McCoy. Lake County Jail photo.

 

 

LAKEPORT – As John McCoy lay dying from eight stab wounds in the early morning hours of May 4, he reportedly identified his attacker to Clearlake Police, who said they found the suspect at the scene, the bloody knife still in his hands.


After listening to testimony that included eyewitness accounts of the attack on McCoy, a jury on Wednesday morning found Andre Lafayette Stevens, 43, guilty of first-degree murder.


Deliberations weren't quick, however; Stevens' attorney, Jason Webster, said Tuesday that the jury went into deliberations on Thursday, but had Friday and Monday off before resuming Tuesday. At one point the jury asked for some testimony to be read back as it considered the case.


Attempts to reach Webster on Wednesday for comment on the guilty verdict were unsuccessful.


Deputy District Attorney John Langan reported that the jury handed down the first-degree murder verdict, with special allegations, at about 10 a.m. Tuesday.


Stevens had pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and the special allegation of using a knife in a June court appearance, despite having admitted during interviews with police that he stabbed McCoy, as Lake County News previously reported. Since his arrest he has remained in Lake County Jail on $1 million bail.


Langan said all of his testimony came from eyewitnesses, included the neighbors in the apartment complex who were calling police while McCoy was being stabbed.


Stevens' motive for the brutal crime appeared to be jealousy, according to Langan.


Two weeks before the stabbing, Stevens' girlfriend broke off their relationship and returned to the Midwest.


Not only did Stevens lose a relationship, Langan said he also lost a steady form of income. That's because his ex-girlfriend was an In-Home Supportive Services client, and he was her IHSS care provider.


Langan said the prosecution's theory was that Stevens stabbed 42-year-old John Rayford McCoy Jr. believing that McCoy and Stevens' ex-girlfriend had been in a romantic relationship.


The two men weren't unknown to each other, said Langan. McCoy, who police reported had only been in the Clearlake area about a month, had stayed at Stevens' home a few times before the murder, said Langan.


Early on May 4, the prosecution alleged that Stevens took a 12-inch military knife and stabbed McCoy eight times, twice in the heart, said Langan.


Witnesses testified that after stabbing McCoy, Stevens continued his assault, kicking McCoy as he died.


"It was just a brutal, brutal killing," said Langan.


Langan credited the neighbors at the apartment complex for their efforts to save McCoy by calling police to report the attack. Their testimony proved key to the trial, he added.


Police arrived within a minute of the 911 call being placed, said Langan. They were on scene so quickly, he said, that the neighbors were still on the phone with the 911 operator.


"The police got there with Mr. Stevens still holding the knife in his hands," said Langan.


McCoy, who was mortally wounded, died within minutes of Clearlake Police's arrival, said Langan. There was nothing officers could do because of the extent of his injuries.


Langan said Stevens waived time throughout the proceedings, which led to a very quick trial – it's been just over four months since McCoy's murder.


Stevens will return to court at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 5, when Judge Robert Crone – who is sitting in for Judge David Herrick – will pass sentence, said Langan.


The first-degree murder conviction carries a sentence of 25 years to life, said Langan.


Additional time will be added for three special allegations the jury found to be true, said Langan, including the fact that he used a knife in committing the murder of McCoy, which added another year to the sentence.


The second special allegation involved Stevens' conviction of a previous “strike” under California's Three Strikes Law for a 1990 robbery in Santa Clara County. That strike doubles Stevens' sentence to 50 years to life, said Langan.


Stevens also had previously been convicted of two counts of felony battery on a police officer in 1999, also in Santa Clara County, said Langan.


Although that conviction didn't count as a strike, it did provide another special allegation against Stevens. Langan said Stevens had been released from prison in August 2005 and, because he committed another crime within five years of the conclusion of a prison term, another year will be added to his sentence, Langan explained.


"What it means is Mr. Stevens will likely have to serve 52 years until he's eligible for parole," said Langan.


Based on the sentencing guidelines, Stevens would be 95 years old before he would become eligible for parole.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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