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Jury deliberations continue in Jeff Steen murder trial

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — After deliberating for much of the day, jurors still had not reached a verdict as of late Monday afternoon in the murder trial of Jeff Steen.

The deliberations came on the heels of Steen’s Friday testimony and closing arguments from both Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook and Steen’s attorney, Darrin Jordan. Jurors began deliberating about 10 a.m. Monday, took a lunch recess then continued through the afternoon.

Steen, 43, is facing prison if convicted in the murder of his 87-year-old grandfather, J.D. Furr, and the attempted murder of his mother, Sandra Steen. Rowan County Sheriff’s Office investigators testified throughout the three-week trial that they believe Jeff Steen beat his grandfather with a potato hoe and choked his mother.

Sandra Steen was left for dead in 31-degree weather and survived. Medical experts testified that they were not quite sure how she survived being choked and that she suffered hypothermia, a punctured lung and a skull fracture.

Investigators said whoever attacked Sandra Steen used a martial arts maneuver called the rear naked choke that cuts the blood supply to the brain, rendering the victim unconscious. She tried to claw her way back to the house, but only made it 8 feet.

Jeff Steen testified that he found his mother the morning of Nov. 6, 2013, and had last seen her and his grandfather the night before when he installed a ceiling fan at his grandfather’s River Road home. Jeff Steen said he had to leave the house two times before finally installing the ceiling fan. He returned to his Albemarle home to shorten the blades and a second time to obtain bolts.

Steen said he left for home the final time and left his grandfather in the kitchen eating a snack. He said his mother was heading to an outdoor utility shed where she sews and reads books. Jeff Steen said he rushed to get to work at Norandal in Salisbury.

Investigators said that was enough time to bludgeon his grandfather and choke his mother. Sandra Steen told investigators she scratched her assailant on the forearm. Detectives found scratches on Jeff Steen’s forearm. He told officials his mother scratched him the morning he found her, but doctors say that wasn’t possible. Sandra Steen was weak and her hands were still locked in a curled position when she arrived at the hospital.

Detectives said Jeff Steen owed his mother and grandfather money and that he was behind paying bills and owed back taxes. They said Jeff Steen believed he stood to inherit his grandfather’s Richfield farm. If Furr died, the farm would have been left to Sandra Steen and her sister, Susan.

Jurors heard from doctors, Rowan EMS workers, family and friends, Jeff Steen’s co-workers, DNA experts, detectives, and Sandra Steen, as well as the defendant.

Deliberations continue at 9:30 this morning.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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