Jeff Steen murder trial begins with jury selection
By Shavonne Walker
SALISBURY — Jury selection began Monday in the murder trial of Jeff David Steen, who is charged in the 2013 death of his grandfather, J.D. Furr, and the attempted murder and beating of his mother, Sandra Steen.
Dozens of potential jurors were seated in the courtroom Monday waiting to learn whether they would be dismissed or called to serve for the trial, which is expected to last about three weeks. Each potential juror was asked a series of questions about any scheduling concerns and conflicts of interest with any witnesses or experts who will be called to testify. They also were asked about whether there was any reason they would be prejudiced during the proceedings.
Catawba County Superior Court Judge Nathaniel Poovey said the plan is to continue questioning jurors today and likely finish Wednesday. The trial is set to begin with opening statements from Rowan District Attorney Brandy Cook and Assistant District Attorney Tim Gould as well as Steen’s attorney, Darrin Jordan of Salisbury. The trial was postponed in October after scheduling conflicts for the attorneys.
Steen could face life in prison if convicted since this is not a death penalty case.
Rowan County investigators have said Furr’s body was found lying on the ground outside his River Road home the morning of Nov. 6, 2013. Steen told investigators he found his mother lying in the driveway and called 911. It was Sandra Steen who shed some light on the incidents leading to her father’s death and her attack, investigators say. Sandra Steen told detectives that she spoke to her son about a payment that was due on a loan she had gotten for him.
She said he was at the River Road home she shared with her father to repair a ceiling fan. She said the three of them talked and she showed Jeff a baby doll she had bought for one of his children. Sandra Steen said she went to an outbuilding and, before she had a chance to go inside the house, she was grabbed from behind.
She said she was attacked and left unconscious outside the house. She never saw her attacker but recalled seeing her son standing over her the next morning.
She told investigators she was choked and fought back against her attacker. She said she scratched her assailant on the arm and then blacked 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 that he received the scratches at 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 awoke in the middle of the night still lying on the ground in 31-degree weather, but she passed out several times.
Jeff Steen was arrested two weeks after the murder. He has been in the Rowan County jail without bond since his Nov. 21, 2013, arrest.
During jury selection Monday, Steen was seated beside his attorney and occasionally jotted down notes.
Jury selection resumes this morning.
Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.