Late one spring night in 1984, the doorbell rang at the home of Norman and Mary Jane Stout. The Stouts, married thirty years, with three grown kids, lived in Guernsey County, Ohio, about a hundred yards oﬀ Interstate 70. Norman was a heavy-equipment operator; Mary Jane, who once worked as an oﬃce manager, was a collector of Holly Hobbie plates and ﬁgurines. They were at the kitchen table, paying bills. Norman opened the door to ﬁnd two men, who looked to be in their mid-twenties. They said that their car had broken down on the highway and asked to use the telephone.
Norman invited them in, then watched as one of the men, after ﬁnishing the call, took out a handkerchief and wiped oﬀ the receiver. The two men—their names were John David Stumpf and Clyde Daniel Wesley—pulled guns. “Oh, by the way, this is a stickup,” Wesley said. When Norman rushed at Stumpf, Stumpf shot him twice in the head; the ﬁrst shot, Norman later recalled, hit “the bridge of my glasses, right between my eyes.” He lost consciousness and fell to the ground. Afterward, one of the robbers shot and killed Mary Jane. Norman came to in time to hear the men’s voices in another room, and then the shots that killed his wife. But he couldn’t see who ﬁred the gun.
Stumpf and Wesley were both charged with aggravated murder, and were prosecuted separately at the Guernsey County Courthouse. Stumpf’s case went to court in September, 1984.