Pacific Man’s Murder Trial Continuing - The Missourian: Top Stories

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Pacific Man’s Murder Trial Continuing

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Posted: Monday, January 30, 2012 4:37 pm | Updated: 7:01 pm, Sat Jun 22, 2013.

The trial of a Pacific man accused in the grisly murder of his girlfriend was in its second day Tuesday.

Vernell J. Loggins Jr., 39, is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Stephanie M. Fields, Pacific, whose body was discovered Nov. 3, 2009.

Authorities allege that Loggins attacked and killed Fields, stabbing her multiple times, at the man's apartment in the Monroe Woods complex at Pacific.

Loggins, authorities allege, then dismembered the body and placed it in a trash can packed with ice, leaving it near a dumpster.

A maintenance worker at the apartment complex testified to finding the body in the trash can.

State's witness Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mary Case, who conducted the autopsy of Fields' body, testified Monday that Fields was stabbed 25 times during the attack.

She said the cause of death was "stab wounds of the neck and chest."

Case added that she suspects that Fields was conscious during the entire attack.

"There were no wounds that would create a loss of consciousness," she said. "I don't believe she would faint in the midst of severe pain."

Case explained that she suspected Fields was alive for "several minutes" during the attack.

"There was nothing to cause instantaneous death," Case added. "It would take some period of time to die."

After reviewing evidence and testimony, the jury of 11 women and one man will first render a guilty or innocent verdict. If the defendant is found guilty of first-degree murder, the panel will then decide if he should receive the death penalty.

Prosecutors say Loggins deliberated before killing Fields. Deliberation must be proven in capital offenses.

The St. Louis Area Major Case Squad was called in the day the body was found and by that evening, members of the county sheriff's department's Emergency Response Team served a search warrant at an apartment and took Loggins into custody without incident.

Authorities said Loggins purchased a toter trash can at the Eureka Wal-Mart and was caught on tape leaving the store with the item while wearing the same "unique" St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap he was arrested in.

Authorities believe the murder occurred Sunday, Nov. 1, or Monday, Nov. 2, 2009.

Loggins has been held in the county jail on a $1 million cash-only bond since his arrest.

This is the first time in more than 18 years that a jury will decide a capital murder case in Franklin County.

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