Twice-convicted death row murderer Stephen Stanko seeking new trial in girlfriend’s killing

Allegations of drug use by the lead attorney for twice-convicted death row murderer Stephen Stanko, lack of time for appellate attorneys to prepare his appeal, and divergence among the defense team during the Georgetown trial in his girlfriend’s brutal beating and strangulation death all were brought up Monday during Stanko’s post-conviction relief hearing.

Stanko was sentenced to death after being convicted in 2006 by a Georgetown County jury in the death of his 43-year-old live-in girlfriend, Laura Ling. The 47-year-old has asked for post conviction relief in that trial and Circuit Court Judge W. Jeffrey Young is presiding over the testimony in the appeal this week.

Stanko also was sentenced to death in the shooting death of 74-year-old Henry Turner of Conway. He also has appealed that decision and is awaiting a judge’s decision.

Stanko’s crime spree took place in April 2005, when he brutally killed Ling in the Murrells Inlet home that he shared with her and Ling’s then-15-year-old daughter, who also was beaten, raped and left for dead, officials said.