A judge Friday in St. Charles sentenced a former Houston police officer, Dent County sheriff’s deputy and state correctional officer to death for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Annette Durham, in 2011.

Judge Kelly Wayne Parker also sentenced Marvin Rice to life in prison for the murder of Dunham’s boyfriend, Steven Strotkamp, 39. Rice at one time was an officer with the Houston Police Department and guard at the South Central Correctional Center at Licking.

A jury in August found Marvin Rice guilty of first-degree murder for Durham’s death and second-degree murder for Strotkamp’s. But jurors deadlocked on whether Rice should die for Durham’s death, meaning the decision was left to Parker, a Salem judge.

The trial was moved to St. Charles County from Dent County because of the publicity attached to the case, and because of Rice’s former job there.

The fatal shootings sprang from a custody dispute between Rice and Durham over their son, who was conceived during an affair Rice had while he was a Dent County sheriff’s deputy and born while she was serving a prison sentence.

Durham, who struggled with drug addiction, was trying to turn her life around, and was seeking greater time with their son. No custody agreement was in place, and Rice initially allowed her only brief supervised visits.

On Dec. 10, 2011, she was allowed an unsupervised visit and decided that she wanted to keep her son overnight, Dent County Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Curley told jurors in his opening statement during the trial.

Rice found out and went to the house outside of Salem that Durham shared with Strotkamp. He argued with Durham, then shot her on the doorstep and shot Strotkamp inside the home. Durham’s daughter was in a bedroom with her half-brother, and told jurors that she heard loud noises before Rice entered with a pistol and took the boy.

The shooting sparked a high-speed police chase that ended in a shootout in a Jefferson City hotel during a Christmas party.

Curley had argued for a first-degree murder conviction for both shootings. But public defender Charles Hoskins said that Rice “snapped” when Durham told him she was taking their son for good. Rice had a pituitary tumor at the time and the 17 medications he was taking affected his impulse control and made him paranoid, Hoskins told jurors.

Rice’s lawyers had argued for a life sentence in the weeks before Friday’s hearing, saying that 11 of 12 jurors had voted against the death penalty. They also argued that giving Rice the death penalty would be unconstitutional.

Prosecutors said that jurors had found one aggravating factor in favor of the death penalty, and did not unanimously decide that mitigating evidence outweighed that aggravating circumstance.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply