Prior to his murder conviction, Stanko had been incarcerated for Assault & kidnapping in 1996. Stanko was released from prison in 2004 after serving 8 1/2 years of the 10-year sentence. While in prison, he co-authored a book titled "Living in Prison: A History of the Correctional System With an Insider's View".
Stephen Stanko has been described as "a highly intelligent, polished ex-convict who didn't mind talking about his life in prison or the book he'd written about it." The book is about prison life and Stanko's fear of being labeled "a convicted felon" after his release. Stanko wrote: "What I fear most now is that I may carry some of this total institution back into society with me."
About one year after being released from prison, Stephen began doing library research, supposedly for a second book. While doing this research he befriended Laura Ling, and eventually moved in with her as her boyfriend. He also had developed a seemingly friendly relationship with library patron, Henry Turner.
Shortly thereafter, however, something went terribly wrong with both of these relationships. Stanko was convicted, after a failed insanity defense, of strangling Laura Ling, 43, the librarian who lived with him outside Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, shooting Henry Lee Turner, 74, and sexually assaulting and stabbing Ling's teenage daughter, who survived and made the 911 call for help. Following the conviction, he was sentenced to death.
Articles on Jeffrey Dahmer, Green River killer Gary Ridgway and other serial killers were found in Stanko's home. According to a police spokesperson: "He either was just interested in serial killers or he was becoming a serial killer."
After a nationwide manhunt, based on tips received after the posting of a $10,000 reward for information leading to his capture, Stanko was arrested without incident by the U.S. Marshals Service in Augusta, Georgia on April 12, 2005.
Stephen Stanko is currently on Death row at Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville, South Carolina. A date of execution had been set for October, 2007, but is currently stayed for appeals. If the execution does take place, he will have a choice of the Electric chair or Lethal injection. He is the first person to be sentenced to death in Georgetown County in nearly 11 years.
The first phase of Stanko's appeals process began on 23 September 2007, when he appeared before the S.C. Supreme Court in a bid to overturn his death penalty conviction. His attorney said that errors in the original trial resulted in his conviction, in that the trial judge did not allow the defense to ask potential jurors how they felt about the insanity defense and did not allow the defense to present Stanko's age/mentality as aggravating or "mitigating" factors.
Court officials said that Stanko will not be put to death on his set execution date Oct. 17, 2007, because the appeals process takes years to complete. Stanko faces another trial for the murder of 74-year-old Henry Turner, which is set to begin in the week of November 9th, 2009.
Stephen Stanko is charged with forgery and obtaining goods thru false pretense,in the case of Connie Price.Stanko was pretending to be Ms.Price attorney.Ms.Price testified at Stanko's first murder trial.