Man Says Beheading Was Self-defense — (Sun Sentinal)

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Sun Sentinal

August 21, 1996


Already in jail for attacking a stranger with a knife, Steven Kennedy told Oakland Park police that he was not taking his medication last week when he killed and decapitated his lover, court records show.

In an interview at the Broward County Jail on Monday, Kennedy, 34, told Detective William Cox that Barbara Jo Stevens, 37, prompted the attack by threatening him while cutting pizza in a “very aggressive manner.”

When she put the kitchen knife down, Kennedy told police he picked it up. Police say he then stabbed Stevens in the neck numerous times, killing her, then beheaded her with the same knife.

When investigators walked into Stevens’ trailer at the Oakdale Trailer Village a few days later, they found her headless body still sitting in a chair at the table. A large kitchen knife was on the table, court records show.

The Broward Medical Examiner’s Office found at least six stab wounds to Stevens’s throat and said 13 separate cuts were made to sever the head from the body, court documents show.

Kennedy admitted killing Stevens, Cox’s report said, but said he did it in self-defense.

Kennedy told police that Stevens was slicing and eating pizza at the table and talking about how she had attacked other men and hurt them. He said the aggressive talk made him “extremely … and tremendously in fear of her.”

When Cox asked Kennedy why he killed Stevens, the detective said the suspect replied: “`Stupid, I guess. I feel terrible.”’

Cox said Kennedy also told him he was “responsible” for the death because he had not been taking prescribed medications of Percocet and Prozac.

Court records show Kennedy has been treated for mental problems in the past. He was voluntarily hospitalized by the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services in December 1994 after being found incompetent to stand trial in a December 1993 aggravated assault case.

In May, he changed his plea to no contest, was found guilty of the assault charge and received a 60-day sentence.

Investigators say Stevens was probably killed last Wednesday or Thursday. Her head was found in Fort Lauderdale Saturday night; her body, early Sunday morning.

Last Friday, a day or so after the murder, Broward sheriff’s deputies arrested Kennedy after they say he used a plastic-handled butcher knife to attack a stranger aboard a county bus on Northwest 19th Street near Fort Lauderdale.

The victim, another passenger and the bus driver wrestled with Kennedy and got the knife away before he hurt anyone, the police report said.

He was in jail on that aggravated assault charge late Monday night when Oakland Park police charged him with an open count of homicide in Stevens’ death. He is now being held with no bail.

Kennedy told Cox that he met Stevens at a driver’s license agency in Lauderhill about a month ago and said they quickly developed a friendship.

When Stevens’ boyfriend was hopitalized three weeks ago after a suicide attempt, Kennedy said he and Stevens became lovers and he started staying at her trailer at 1103 NE 30th St. part of the time.

Kennedy told Cox that he loved Stevens.

He also said that after killing her, he grabbed his new sunglasses, jewelry and other belongings from her trailer and stuffed them into grocery bags and took them with him, court documents said.

Those same items were found with a head in bags in the bushes near a home off Davie Bouelvard in the 2600 block of Southwest 13th Street in Fort Lauderdale, Cox said.

He said the bags also contained a letter from HRS that served as temporary identification for Kennedy to receive Medicare.