Norwich murder suspect waives hearing, pleads not guilty to stabbing partner
Jeffrey T. Stovall Jr., accused of fatally stabbing his longtime partner in Norwich on Jan. 18, waived his right to an evidentiary hearing and pleaded not guilty to murder Monday during an appearance in New London Superior Court.
Family members of the victim, 33-year-old Jason Beck, filled a row of benches in the courtroom for Stovall's brief appearance before Judge Hillary B. Strackbein and met with victim advocates from the Judicial Branch and Survivors of Homicide.
A woman who was in court to support Stovall told him she loved him as he was led back into the courthouse holding area following his brief court appearance. He is being held on a $503,000 bond at the Garner Correctional Institution.
As a defendant in a murder case, Stovall had a right to a hearing at which prosecutors would present evidence in an effort to prove to a judge there was probable cause that he had committed the crime.
Public defender Kevin C. Barrs, who had met with Stovall, told the court Stovall would be waiving the hearing. State's attorneys Paul J. Narducci and Christa L. Baker will be prosecuting the case. Once all the evidence is submitted to the court, the attorneys will begin pretrial discussions in an effort to resolve the case with a plea deal.
According to Norwich police, Beck and Stovall, 22, started dating in 2012 after meeting online and lived together in Oakville for several years. Stovall was charged in November with assaulting Beck and was prohibited, under a protective order, from having contact with Beck. Beck moved to Norwich, where he had family members, and Stovall was at a shelter in the Worcester, Mass., area, according to court documents and testimony, until Beck took him into his home in January.
Stovall confessed to stabbing Beck after the two men argued, according to police. During a 911 call, Beck begged Stovall to stay away from him while telling a dispatcher that Beck was continuing to stab him.