Planned murder trial of Jeff Steen postponed until next year

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 11, 2016

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY – A murder trial scheduled to begin this week for Jeff David Steen has been postponed until early next year. Steen, 43, is charged with murdering his 87-year-old grandfather, J.D. Furr, and attempted murder in the beating of his mother, Sandra Steen.

Jeff Steen has been in the Rowan County jail without bond since his Nov. 21, 2013 arrest. Rowan County investigators have said Furr was found lying on the ground outside his River Road home the morning of Nov. 6, 2013.

Jury selection was to begin Monday, but Judge Nathaniel Poovey said because of scheduling conflicts it would be best to continue the trial. It was rescheduled for Jan. 9.

Poovey said he would have to miss a day, as did Rowan District Attorney Brandy Cook and Jeff Steen’s attorney Darrin Jordan. Jordan said he had a prior obligation for the state bar that he couldn’t miss.

Since all three would be absent on various days throughout the trial, the judge said it would be hard to give jurors a break and have them return after about a nine-day recess.

Jordan had filed a motion for a continuance prior to the start of the trial, which was denied by the judge. Poovey explained that now that it would have to be postponed, Jordan could use that time to handle the matter he’d originally asked be continued.

The Salisbury attorney wanted extra time to speak with an expert witness he planned to call at trial. There was also hair collected as evidence that needed to be tested and a three-month postponement was enough time to see that it was tested.

Furr had been beaten to death with a hoe, court papers confirmed. He had several cuts to his head, and the gardening tool was found lying beside him, covered in blood. Furr’s wallet was empty of any cash and lying next to him.

Sandra Steen had been attacked the night before and left unconscious outside the house. She told investigators hadn’t seen her attacker and when she came to the next morning, her son was standing over her. She would later tell investigators she had been choked and fought back. Sandra Steen told detectives she scratched her assailant on the arm before blacking out.

Investigators found scratches on Jeff Steen’s arm, which he told them he received from his mother when he tried to help her the morning he found her.

Jeff Steen also told detectives he received the scratches from work, but officials have said none of Steen’s co-workers at Norandal said he ever told them he was injured.

Sandra Steen said she tried to make her way back to the house when she woke in the middle of the night still lying on the ground in 31-degree weather, but she passed out several times.

Sandra Steen also told officials she loaned Jeff money in the past. The night before she was beaten, she told her son a payment was due about a week later on a loan she had recently gotten for him.

She said Jeff was at the home to repair a ceiling fan. The three talked and then she showed Jeff a baby doll she’d bought for one of his children, she told investigators. She went to an outside building and before she went back into the house, she was grabbed from behind.

Investigators said Jeff Steen called 911.

Authorities identified Steen as a suspect and he was arrested two weeks after the attack.

Steen could face life in prison for the murder of his grandfather since this is not a capital case. He could face more than 32 years, maximum, if convicted in the attempted murder of his mother.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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