Man gets 2 life terms for Fargo double homicide
- Article by: DAVE KOLPACK
- Associated Press
- June 27, 2014 - 5:20 PM
FARGO, N.D. — A man convicted in the November stabbing deaths of his ex-girlfriend and another man in Fargo was sentenced Friday to two life terms without parole.
David Stevens pleaded guilty in January to killing Samantha Wickenheiser, 23, of Fargo, and Ward Berg, 30, of Moorhead, Minnesota, in Wickenheiser's north Fargo apartment. Wickenheiser is the mother of Stevens' two young sons.
The defense argued that the 35-year-old Stevens had a miserable childhood, saying he was beaten by his father and sexually assaulted by his uncle. Stevens asked for a term of life with parole, which would've made him eligible to get out in 35 years.
Stevens, dressed in orange prison clothes and handcuffed, apologized for his actions and said he became sick after the stabbings.
Assistant Cass County State's Attorney Tristan Van de Streek argued in a sentencing memorandum that the "gravity of the crimes" called for the maximum penalty.
"He effectively made orphans of his own children," Van de Streek said. "He tortured Samantha and then expressed in a letter to his own mother that Samantha did not suffer enough."
Officers responded shortly after 2 a.m. on Nov. 23 to a report that a woman said she had been stabbed. As officers were arriving on the scene, Stevens told dispatchers over the phone that he stabbed the two victims and said Wickenheiser was "out in the parking lot dead," according to court documents. The bodies of Wickenheiser and Berg were found outside the apartment.
"Both Samantha and Ward tried to flee from the defendant, but he chased them down and killed them," Van de Streek said.
Stevens said in a letter from prison to Berg's wife that if she wanted he would tell her what led to the killings.
"I'll take it to my grave unless you want to know, but I'll never tell anyone else," he said.
Police said Wickenheiser had half of an eight-inch serrated knife lodged in the left side of her head, along with numerous other wounds to her head, hands, face, neck and back. A stab wound to her back had a depth of nearly 8 inches.
"The number and severity of the wounds suggests that the defendant did not just want to kill Samatha, he wanted her to suffer before she died," Van de Streek said.
Prosecutors pointed out a letter Stevens sent to his mother saying that Wickenheiser got off too easy and she didn't deserve a quick death. He also said in the letter he's looking forward to going to prison.
"I really hope my life is a short one," Stevens wrote. "That's terrible to say but at no time in my life has it ever ... been truer."
Stevens' wife, April, told police the pair drove from Brookings, South Dakota, to Fargo the night of the killings because Stevens said he wanted to pick up clothing from the apartment. Investigators said David Stevens brought two knives with him.
April Stevens said her husband got out of the vehicle after they arrived at the apartment. About two minutes later, she said, Wickenheiser, covered in blood, tried to get into the car. She told police later that the victim did not have a knife lodged in her head.
April Stevens said she drove out of the parking lot and parked in front of the building. She later flagged down an officer and told her that Wickenheiser had approached her car.
Authorities said David Stevens stabbed Berg in the heart and then cut his throat.
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