Dewayne RichardsonMississippi Delta DA 4th District

Greenville, MS—Michael Stephney, Sr., 54, of Greenville, was found Guilty of Second Degree Murder and Attempted Murder in April following a three-day trial in Washington County Circuit Court, District Attorney Dewayne Richardson announced today.

Just before the noon hour on November 3, 2018, officers of the Greenville Police Department were called to the then Delta Regional Medical Center in response to a shooting victim being brought to the emergency room. Upon their arrival, they observed a gray Honda sedan riddled with bullet damage in the parking lot, and made contact with the shot victim’s son, Dexter, who informed them that Michael Stephney had shot at them at a shop on Highway 82. Shortly after their arrival to the hospital, medical personnel relayed the news that Victor Hallman had succumbed to his injuries.

Detectives with the Greenville Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division were sent to the hospital and the shooting scene. The ensuing investigation revealed that Dexter and Stephney were at odds and had a series of heated exchanges earlier that morning including Dexter telling Stephney that he wanted to fight to settle whatever the issue was. Dexter went to Stephney’s place of business and Stephney shot at him and his father as they attempted to leave.

During the course of the trial, Assistant District Attorneys Kaylon McCou and Austin Frye presented evidence to the jury that Dexter and Michael Stephney, Sr. knew each other and would occasionally interact and hang out, but that, at some point closely preceding the shooting, the relationship between the two took an unfriendly turn when they had a disagreement involving a mutual female acquaintance. Dexter testified that he had called Stephney earlier that day and told him that he wanted to fight and Stephney told him he was not going to do anything. Video surveillance recovered from the defendant’s shop captured the shooting. The jury saw that Dexter backed his car into the driveway of the business and began approaching Stephney who was standing near an SUV. The deceased victim, Victor Hallman, 60, had gotten out of the passenger seat of the vehicle driven by Dexter and stood by the car. As Dexter got closer, Stephney stepped behind the SUV and Dexter began to walk back to his car. As Dexter and his father were starting to get back into the sedan, Stephney was handed a firearm from someone inside of the building and began shooting at the Hallmans and their vehicle. The video showed the two ducking down in fear and attempting to hurriedly sit down in the car. Trying to escape the hail of gunfire, Dexter sped away on Highway 82 before they could get their doors closed as Stephney walked behind the vehicle, even into the highway himself, continuing to fire. Dexter would detail to the jury that at some point he noticed his father had been shot and rushed to the hospital.

ADAs McCou and Frye argued, in the State’s closing remarks, that Stephney, Sr. did not have a legitimate or lawful claim of self-defense because the evidence clearly demonstrated that he was never in fear of death or serious bodily harm. The jury deliberated and convicted Michael Stephney, Sr. of the Attempted Murder of Dexter Hallman and the Second Degree Murder of Victor Hallman with a Firearm Enhancement. Following a hearing on May 22nd, Stephney was sentenced for the Attempted Murder and Second Degree Murder to thirty (30) years in MDOC custody with twenty (20) years to serve, and the remaining ten (10) years suspended on the condition that he comply with the terms of his probationary status following his release.

“This was simply not a case of self-defense. There existed no reason for the defendant to escalate this conflict to a deadly encounter when both victims were clearly trying to leave as he repeatedly shot at them. We are thankful that the jury carefully considered the evidence in this case and saw that shooting a human being out of anger is not justified no matter how many times you use the phrase ‘self-defense’,” McCou stated. “While the conviction and sentence will not bring Victor back, we pray that it will end a painful chapter in the lives of the Hallman family and allow them to continue to move forward in Victor’s memory,” Richardson added.

The Office of the District Attorney is deeply appreciative for the trust and patience of the victims’ family, the investigative efforts of the Greenville Police Department, and the service of those who answered the call to jury duty.