Defendant found guilty in Benton Co. murder trial
By Ava Wilhite, Erin Coduti
December 14, 2010
BENTON COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - UPDATE: The jury has delivered a guilty verdict for the charge of murder. The defendant took the stand today in a Benton County trial for a man accused of murdering his fiancée last November.
The defendant, 58-year-old Steven R. Farrell, stands accused of murdering his fiancée, 40-year-old Christine Craig, on the day they had planned to marry.
In the second day of testimony on Tuesday, a witness questioned by the prosecution alleged that Farrell had raped one of Craig's family members before Craig's murder took place.
On the witness stand Thursday morning, Farrell said he had intended to marry Craig on the day of her death. However, Farrell admitted that he had sex with a relative of Craig's on the day of Craig's death. While Farrell indicated that this sex was consensual, the relative was a minor.
Farrell said that he called Craig after having sex with her minor relative because he felt guilty.
Farrell also admitted to having a gun in his hand when confronted by Craig, but said he doesn't remember pulling the trigger. Farrell claimed the gun went off when he fell, and that he had brought the gun to kill himself, not Craig.
Farrell said that he remembers Craig saying, "My god, I've been shot," but he left the state instead of helping her.
Farrell admitted to traveling to Danville, Illinois, after Craig was shot, and buying clothes, a razor, and gasoline. He also admitted to traveling to the Indianapolis International Airport, catching a cab, and buying a bus ticket to Las Vegas, Nevada. Farrell said his intention was to stay in Las Vegas for a few days.
Farrell said he then took another bus to Mesquite, Nevada. Farrell said his intention in Mesquite was to kill himself by overdosing on multiple prescription medications. Farrell was arrested while in Mesquite.
Farrell also admitted in the testimony that he was already married to a Utah resident, and said that the wedding planned with Craig was purely ceremonial.
When Farrell was cross-examined, the prosecutor asked Farrell if he had killed Craig. Farrell replied, "I'm not sure how to answer."
When the prosecutor repeated the question - "You killed her?" - Farrell replied "Yes."
The prosecution submitted as evidence a letter that Farrell wrote to a friend. In this letter, Farrell wrote that a second friend had given him a lot of ways "to do away with Christine."
When given the opportunity to respond to this letter, Farrell said, "I never wanted to kill her. I loved that woman to death."
It took a Benton County jury less than two hours to come back with a guilty verdict for Steve. R. Farrell.
The jury began deliberations at 1:45 p.m. and returned shortly after 3:10 p.m. Farrell was found guilty of murder, a felony.
While the jury was out Farrell changed his plea from not guilty to guilty on a second charge of being a felon in possession of a handgun.
Sentencing for both charges is tentatively scheduled for December 14.
May 17, 1969 - November 27, 2009
Christine R. Craig, 40, West Lafayette, passed away at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27, 2009, in Benton County.
Born May 17, 1969, she was the daughter of Cindi Armstrong Riehle and Robert Craig.
Chris loved her family and friends. She loved life itself and had a special fondness for animals. She enjoyed playing Bingo, but most of all, she just loved having fun with her kids.
Surviving with are her mother, Cindi Riehle, of Kokomo; her father and stepmother, Robert and Sharon Craig, of Tennessee; her children, Holli, Ann, Jazzlyn and Randy Travenicek, all of Lafayette;one sister, Kim Craig, Tennessee; four brothers, Patrick (Sandy) Craig, Cary Craig, of Kokomo; Rick Craig and Roger Craig; and her grandmother, Virginia Armstrong, of Logansport.
Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, 2009, in Fisher Funeral Chapel with celebrant Patricia Fisher officiating. Interment will follow in West Cemetery.
Friends may call from 1 p.m. until the time of services.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Christine Craig Memorial Fund in care of Fisher Funeral Chapel.