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Jury deliberations in Jeff Steen murder trial heads to Day 3

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The jury remained undecided Tuesday afternoon after two days of deliberations in the murder trial of Jeff Steen, who is accused of beating his grandfather to death and assaulting his mother on Nov. 5, 2013.

During the deliberations, jurors have asked questions about evidence in the case including a journal kept by the murder victim, J.D. Furr, and 911 recordings.

Rowan County Sheriff’s Office investigators have said Steen beat Furr, his grandfather, with a potato hoe and attempted to kill his mother, Sandra Steen, using a maneuver common to martial arts.

Sandra Steen was left in 31-degree weather but survived to identify her son as her attacker. She initially told investigators her son couldn’t have attacked her, but then later told them it had to be him.

Sandra Steen said she scratched her assailant on the right arm, the same arm on which investigators say they found scratches on Jeff Steen. He told investigators he got the scratches from his mother the morning he found her. He later said he got the scratches at work but never reported an injury. He said in a recorded interview that he must have gotten the scratches after installing a ceiling fan at his grandfather’s River Road home.

Steen had gone to his grandfather’s home the night of Nov. 5, 2013, to install the ceiling fan in a bathroom. His son Jordon was with him. They left shortly after arriving when he discovered the fan blades were too short. They went to their Albemarle home to cut the blades and drove 20 minutes back to the Richfield farm, according to testimony.

Steen testified in court that he left one other time before finally leaving the house to go to work at Norandal that night. He said he received a call from his mother and later accidentally deleted the call from his phone. Steen told the court he called his mother on the house phone later, but it went to voice mail.

Jurors were “hung up” on Furr’s time of death, officials said. It’s not clear if Furr was killed before or after the attack on Sandra Steen. But according to her testimony, Sandra Steen tried to call out to her father for help and got no response.

Jeff Steen said he had to get home, shower and eat dinner, which his son, Jordon, made. Steen said he did not eat the meal because it was too seasoned. He showered, spoke with then-girlfriend Adrienne Dixon, now Adrienne Eller, and left for work. He arrived at his job 30 minutes before his shift. he said.

He also testified that he spoke with his grandfather before leaving and told his mother goodbye. Sandra Steen said her attack happened seconds after her son left.

Jurors also asked about whether 911 recordings were redacted in any way. Judge Nathaniel Poovey told them they were not but that they should not concern themselves with redacted information.

Jurors also asked about Furr’s journal. During the trial, family members and friends said they knew Furr kept a record of his meals and business transactions including the cows he sold and the money he leant to relatives and friends.

Jeff Steen said by his calculations, he owed his grandfather about $500. Steen’s mother said he owed her more than $6,000. Jeff Steen told the court the figure his mother gave was everything she had ever bought for him or his children.

Detectives said Steen was behind on his car payments, his insurance had lapsed and he owed back taxes. Steen admitted he did not manage his money well, but he was adamant that he did not kill his grandfather.

Jurors sent a note to the judge Tuesday afternoon saying that they were stuck on a verdict by a 10-2 county. Poovey sent them back to continue deliberating. Jurors will continue deliberations at 9:30 a.m. today.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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