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Trial expected for man accused of killing grandfather, attempting to kill mother set for this week

By Shavonne Walker
shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The trial of a man accused of beating his 87-year-old grandfather to death with a gardening tool and trying to kill his mother is set to begin this week.

Jeff David Steen, 43, has been in the Rowan County jail since his Nov. 21, 2013, arrest.

Court documents show a number of expert witnesses — including forensic psychologists, state crime lab analysts, EMS workers and law enforcement — are slated to testify. Officials expect the trial to last for a couple of weeks, with a possible break for the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.

The body of Steen’s grandfather, J.D. Furr, was found lying on the ground outside his River Road home on the morning of Nov. 6, 2013. He had been beaten with a garden hoe and also had cuts to his head. Investigators found the tool, which was covered in blood, lying beside Furr’s body.

Furr’s wallet was empty of cash and was lying next him.

Sandra Steen, Jeff’s mother, was attacked the night before and left unconscious outside the home, detectives said. She told investigators that she was attacked from behind and that when she awoke the next morning, Jeff Steen was standing over her.

Investigators spoke with Sandra Steen from her hospital bed, and she told them that her attacker choked her and she fought back. She said she scratched her assailant on the arm, then blacked out. She said she tried to crawl back to the house after waking up in the middle of the night but she blacked out several times.

Sandra Steen was left in 31-degree weather and suffered hypothermia, court records show.

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

But Steen changed his story and told detectives he received the scratches at work. Investigators said in court filings that none of Steen’s co-workers at Norandal said he ever told them he was injured. Many of his former co-workers are expected to testify at the trial.

Sandra Steen as well as other relatives and friends are also expected to testify.

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

She said Steen was at the home to repair a ceiling fan that night, and she said she, her father and Jeff Steen talked. She told investigators that she showed her son a baby doll she had bought for one of his children. She went to an outside building and, before she could go back into the house, she was grabbed from behind.

Investigators said Jeff Steen made the 911 call after the incident. Authorities identified Steen as a suspect, and he was arrested two weeks after the attack.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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