Last Modified: Sunday, September 16, 2012 3:52 PM
DERIDDER — Billie Joe Weldon was found guilty of manslaughter and could face up to 40 years in prison.
The 10-2 verdict was met with tears by Weldon's family late Friday night.
It took the jury 2 1/2 hours to reach the decision, which was read at 9 p.m.
Weldon was charged with second-degree murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison without parole. He will be sentenced on Oct. 22.
Weldon was on trial in the death of 27-year-old Kimberly Ann Stephens, whose body was found Aug. 26, 2009.
Law enforcement said she had been beaten to death on Aug. 23, 2009, and her body dragged out of view in a vacant lot on Granberry Road.
Defense attorney David Wallace implored the jury to find Weldon not guilty, telling them that law enforcement lied and hid, destroyed, fabricated, manufactured and twisted evidence.
He said that law enforcement didn’t set out to get Weldon, but “after they got Billie in their gunsights, he was an easy target.”
He ended his closing argument with a passage from Matthew 25 that ended saying “Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
“Your job is to do justice for one of the least in our society,” Wallace said.
Prosecutor Richard Blankenship said he couldn’t quote scripture, but that most of the preachers he knows would say that one is to be held responsible for their actions.
He said Wallace painted a picture in which law enforcement officials and members of the district attorney’s office were lying, while only Weldon was telling the truth.
“All the cops are criminals and all the sinners are saints,” he said, loosely quoting the Rolling Stones.
Prosecutors allege that Stephens’ head was bashed into the concrete, she was beaten with a crescent wrench and her throat was cut.
Blankenship said that Weldon said they should look for a crescent wrench.
Blankenship said Weldon initially said Stephens stood him up on Aug. 23, 2009 and that he didn’t tell investigators that he had taken his son home to Singer that night because he didn’t want anyone to know that Stephens was with him at that time.
Blankenship said Stephens’ DNA and blood were found inside and outside Weldon’s red Chevy Blazer, as well as on the khaki shorts he was wearing.
He said a dirty diaper found at the scene were the same lot number and size as diapers the Weldons used.
Wallace said that if the state’s theory is correct, the khaki shorts Weldon wore that day would have been covered with blood.
Furthermore, he said, there should have been more than just “microscopic” bits of Stephens’ blood and DNA in Weldon’s red Chevy Blazer.
“Whoever killed her struck her seven times in the head and there would have been blood everywhere,” Wallace said.
He said that more than just that size of “Parent’s Choice” diaper bears the same lot number.
Posted By: MJ On: 9/18/2012
the Bible says not to judge others, one day we will all stand before God and will be judged by the one almighty Father of us all. Please don't judge him or anyone else for that matter when you don't know all the facts. Please keep the Stephens famile & Weldon's in prayer, all of them are going thru a trying time.
I pray for Linda West that she finds it in her heart to pray instead of convicting & judging others. AMEN!!!
Posted By: Linda West On: 9/15/2012
Title: Weldon guilty of manslaughter...
I'm glad Weldon was found guilty, but it should have been
second degree murder instead of manslaughter! He took away her life, so he should spend the rest of his life in prison.