Saturday, August 20, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sequim Man Sentenced To Death For Murders Of Wife, Colleague


PORT ANGELES - A Clallam County Superior Court jury took little more than an hour to sentence Darold Stenson to death for the murders of his wife and a business partner.

The jury decided unanimously Thursday that there were not any mitigating circumstances to warrant life imprisonment without parole.

Stenson was convicted last week of first-degree aggravated murder in the deaths of Denise Stenson, 28, and Frank Hoerner, 33, on March 25, 1993, in Sequim.

Judge Ken Williams told Stenson, 41, that the state Supreme Court will automatically review the case. Defense lawyer Fred Letherman said he would appeal the sentencing.

Prosecutor David Bruneau said the court's death-penalty decision was a "just ruling."

In court papers, prosecutors said Stenson shot his wife in an effort to collect on $800,000 in insurance and killed Hoerner to make it look like a love triangle murder-suicide.

That scenario was ruled out in an autopsy.

Investigators found Hoerner, Stenson's partner in an ostrich-ranching operation, had been struck in the head with a blunt instrument before he was shot. He was bruised on the knee, buttocks and hips and had gravel in a cut on his palm.

Documents filed in the case showed several judgments were issued against Stenson in King County for failing to pay debts on real-estate deals and major credit purchases.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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