Stephanie Kirkpatrick Politte

Courtesy photo

The trial for the murder of Stephanie Kirkpatrick Politte, who grew up in Corsicana and attended Collins Catholic School, ended this week in Missouri City near Houston with a guilty verdict for her husband, Daniel.

Justice for Stephanie Kirkpatrick Politte was found this week, when a guilty verdict assured her husband, Daniel Politte, will receive punishment for taking her life in the wee hours of March 11, 2014.

Though Politte has not lived in Navarro County in approximately 18 years, her family and friends here, and those who have radiated out to other counties, watched anxiously as they awaited the verdict of the trial.

“We got what we were looking for with the guilty verdict,” said Brian Kirkpatrick, Stephanie’s cousin, of Fort Worth. Brian’s parents still reside in Corsicana. Politte’s parents are Cynthia Newman Kirkpatrick and Neil and Sylvia Kirkpatrick, all of the Houston area.

“It’s just such been such a high-profile situation,” he continued. “We are kind of private, especially with something like this. The impact of this ... you don’t really know how to handle it. We’re still sort of in shock that it happened. The reality still hasn’t sunk in.”

Kirkpatrick said one argument the prosecutor had was that they did not have to prove motive.

“Nobody could come up with a motive — her family, her friends, nobody could figure out the motive ... it’s a mystery,” he said.

Politte’s stories about the night in Missouri City never matched up, Kirkpatrick said. Though he did not take the stand in his own defense, there were several recorded phone conversations from the first few days right after the murder, where he spoke with Stephanie’s father and her uncle, then there were the stories he had told police and the 911 dispatcher. The stories all conflicted, and Politte claimed he didn’t remember any of it.

Politte was accused of shooting his 29-year-old wife in the head while she slept in their bedroom. His 911 call claimed only that his wife was “vomiting blood.”

“All of the re-enactment was based off of forensics,” Kirkpatrick said of the in-court replay of the murder. “There were only two people in the home that night. One of them is dead, and the other doesn’t remember. They had an extensive amount of forensics to depict what really happened.

“How on earth they can figure that out, I don’t know, but they did a great job.”

Kirkpatrick also credited the team of prosecutors for doing their job well, and said the sentencing can range anywhere from 5 to 99 years. It will be decided by a jury rather than a judge, and arguments for that began Wednesday.

“Being 30 years old, it would not take the maximum to put him there the rest of his life,” he said.

“I personally knew Dan for at least five years, for the three to five times a year we’d be together for holidays ... This was not a stranger that did this. We all knew him ... nobody saw that coming.”

Kirkpatrick said their family is very close, a tight-knit family who has come together in the midst of this terrible tragedy to hold one another up.

“As tragic as it all is, it’s made everyone even closer,” he said. “If there can be some kind of good come out of it, it’s made our family closer. Obviously we would have much rather this never have happened.”

Liz Kingman recalls Stephanie spending many, many hours at her house, from the age of 3 until she was 14 and moved with her family to Sugarland. Her daughter, Rebecca, was a very close friend to Stephanie, along with Mary Brown, and all three went to dance class at Barbara Scott’s Dance Studio. Kingman remembers Politte taking acting lessons at the Warehouse Living Arts Theatre, and what a very good actress she was, full of expression, and how she could memorize the lines at a very young age.

“That always stuck out to me, her intellect,” Kingman said. “She was a very smart little girl. Everyone noticed how smart Stephanie was, that was her strength. She was funny, witty, had us laughing all the time. She had a quick wit, could tell a story like no one else.”

Stephanie had a way about her that enthralled people of all ages, was kind, and had a heart for younger children. Kingman said her choice of occupation in teaching special needs children seemed to utilize her particular gifts nicely.

“She was extroverted, loved being on stage, where she shined,” she said. “She was an encourager to her friends, made everyone feel good around her. She was upbeat and positive, and was crazy about her little brother, Dean.”

Kingman also mentioned that as a mother, she observed these qualities in Stephanie because her daughter was more of an introvert, which made Stephanie a “great little partner to her.”

Her cousin agreed with that assessment, and added generosity.

“She was very outgoing, very welcoming, didn’t know any strangers,” Kirkpatrick said. “She would give the shirt off her back to anyone, much like all of our family. She was just a good all-around human.”

Two things that gave Kirkpatrick insight to Stephanie’s world were the testimonies of the parents of some of her students during the trial, and a theater group she was part of doing a performance that was snippets of each play she’d done, put on in her honor.

“That was even tougher for me to watch, personally,” he said. “I feel like I can start moving upwards at this point. I feel like I’ve been sitting between two mountains.”

Jessica Janak Montemayor, formerly of Corsicana but now residing in Carrollton, was also very good friends with Stephanie in school before she moved to Sugarland. She recalls them being active in Odyssey of the Mind, One Act Play, and when they were younger, attending dance class together.

“She was one of those people you’d describe as being too smart for their own good,” Montemayor said. “She and her brother were both just brilliant children. She had a wit beyond her years. She was fun-loving, and just a good friend.”

Montemayor and Kirkpatrick have stayed very close friends, and she has kept up with Stephanie through her cousin, but the last time she saw her was right before she married the man who would eventually be her killer.

“It was like we picked up right where we left off,” she said. “We met for dinner and it ended up being a four-hour dinner.

“Recently I was looking back at my Facebook messages, and it looked like it almost didn’t happen ... Stephanie had a headache, but at the last minute she was feeling better so she made it after all. I’m really thankful it worked out that way.”

Montemayor’s last meeting with Politte, though she has no recollection of the words that were said, only that it was a good visit, was a bit unsettling.

“I got this very odd vibe about who he (Dan) was as a person,” she said. “I’ve never met him, or even been around him. But just the way she talked ... obviously by no means I ever expected this. But the morning Brian called me, he just said ‘Stephanie was killed.’ I just thought, ‘Dan did it.’ Your mind doesn’t normally go there.”

Montemayor said Stephanie was far too young, and did not deserve to lose her life. She brought so much good to other people’s lives.

“It makes me sick that my thoughts even went there initially, but I must have picked up on something being off about him.

“She was taken entirely too soon from this earth.”

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dkirk@corsicanadailysun.com

soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

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