Metro-East News

Alorton man on trial again after appeals court tosses murder conviction

A 50-year-old Alorton man is on trial again this week after he successfully appealed his 2013 first-degree murder conviction and 55-year prison sentence.

A jury convicted Estil Stamps in 2013 in connection with the 2010 shooting death of Fananza “Nan” Beard, 46.

Judges with the Fifth District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon sided with Stamps in his appeal and reversed his conviction.

Defense attorneys argued that, during his first trial, prosecutors showed to jurors a videotaped interview of Stamps, conducted by police, that made it appear as if he was failing a lie-detector test. The video was a piece of evidence appellate court judges found added “nothing of substance” to the case and should have been presented differently or not at all.

Stamps last week waived his right to a jury trial and began his bench trial Tuesday.

The murder charge stems from the shooting death of Beard at 33rd Street and Bond Avenue in East St. Louis on March 4, 2010. Beard, Stamps and Beard’s girlfriend, Shontiza Goodwin, were allegedly out drinking before the fatal shooting.

Another reason for the appeal was the way in which the jury was instructed by the judge at the end of the first trial, the appellate judges stated, which may have led jurors to believe that if a defendant was voluntarily intoxicated, he intended everything else that happened during that intoxication.

“With regard to the state’s claim that the error was harmless because the evidence against the defendant was overwhelming, we agree with (Stamps) that with regard to intent, the evidence was in fact far from overwhelming,” the judges wrote in their December 2016 opinion.

Judge Zina Cruse presided over the first trial and imposed the 55-year sentence — 30 years for the first-degree murder charge and another 25 years due to a provision that enhances sentences by 25 years to natural life when the defendant fires a weapon that causes death.

If convicted and sentenced again, Stamps will have to serve the entirety of the sentence.

Stamps’ attorney filed a motion in April asking Cruse to reduce Stamps’ $250,000 bail. Cruse denied that request.

Judge Randall Kelley is presiding over Stamps’ bench trial.