A Wake Forest man accused of killing his wife and then fleeing to Mississippi has been returned to Wake County to face a first-degree murder charge.
Lanson Paul Stalf, 39, made his first court appearance in Wake County on Thursday, three weeks after his arrest in a motel in Batesville, Miss., about 60 miles south of Memphis, Tenn.
Mississippi authorities arrested Stalf on Oct. 30 after identifying him as the man who robbed a bank in Hernando earlier that day.
District Court Judge Ned Mangum told Stalf that he could be put to death or spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of killing his wife, Stephanie Lynn Autry. Wake Forest police found Autry dead in her home on Iyar Way in the Shearon Farms subdivision off Capital Boulevard on Oct. 27.
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Investigators have accused Stalf of bashing Autry with a hammer and attacking her with “a picture hanging wire used for strangulation,” according to arrest warrants filed Thursday at the Wake County Magistrate’s Office.
Police think Stalf might have used a rock to break open a locked window in the rear of the home, court documents show.
Wake Forest authorities have also charged Stalf with felony breaking and entering and robbery with a dangerous weapon. They have accused him of taking Autry’s Visa debit card, and her Apple iPad and iPhone, according to arrest warrants.
Mangum told Stalf that he could spend more than 20 years in prison if he is convicted of the armed robbery and felony breaking and entering charges.
Wearing a striped jail jumpsuit Thursday afternoon, Stalf told the judge he wanted a court-appointed attorney. Mangum ordered the state capital defender’s office to represent Stalf.
Autry was the mother of a 3-year-old son. The boy’s nanny called police at 10:11 p.m. Oct. 27 and asked officers to check on his mother’s well-being.
Autry, 34, died less than two weeks after Stalf was released from prison after serving six months for felony larceny. He was charged in Wake County in December 2013 with common law robbery, but the charge was eventually reduced to felony larceny from a person.
He was sentenced to one year and six months in prison in April, state records show, and began his prison sentence May 7.
Stalf is now being held in the Wake County jail without the benefit of bail.