Stephen Stanko is the 48-year-old convicted killer who is currently on death row at Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville, South Carolina. In April 2005, he brutally beat and killed his live-in girlfriend, Laura Ling, in front of her 15-year-old daughter, who was also beaten, raped and left for dead. Stanko then took Ling’s car and drove to the home of a 74-year-old man he befriended in Conway, SC. Stanko shot him, stole his truck and drove to Columbia, where at a downtown restaurant “he claimed he was a New York millionaire and flirted with several women.” He then traveled to Augusta, Georgia, to attend a golf tournament, The Masters.
Ten years later, Stanko’s new attorneys are appealing both sentences and are asking for new trials. In the original trials, Stanko’s defense was that he suffered brain damage which caused him to be insane during the killings. Stanko’s former lead attorney, Bill Diggs, is accused of using drugs (cocaine) during Stanko’s first trial, which allegedly affected his performance in court. In court, Diggs has disputed claims that he used drugs during the time he represented Stanko. Dateline NBC will air its investigative report on February, March 4 at 10pm.