Family takes the stand in post-conviction relief hearing for Stephen Stanko

Stephen Stanko in a Georgetown County Courtroom/WPDE

A post conviction relief hearing that could grant convicted murderer Stephen Stanko, who is on death row, a retrial was back in session Tuesday.

Stanko's attorneys are making the case that his first attorney didn't represent him properly in his original trial over 10 years ago.

Stanko was convicted of murdering his girlfriend Laura Ling in Georgetown County in 2006.

On Tuesday, the defense brought Stanko's brother and a California doctor to the stand. Dr. Joseph Wu stated the doctor misdiagnosed Stanko in the original trial, and the defense is hopeful their testimony was enough for the judge to rule in Stanko's favor.

Jeff Stanko took the stand for the first time since his brother was convicted of murder, and the prosecutor wanted to know why he wasn't around during the original trial.

"It was never brought up that, 'We want you,' or, 'We're going to subpoena you,' regardless of whether or not I wanted to or not. If someone wanted me here, they could've subpoenaed me and I would've had an opinion," he said.

On Tuesday, he stated he knew about his brother's downward spiral in 2004, after Stanko had just been released from prison on a separate charge, and then moved to Myrtle Beach shortly thereafter. He said he reached out to help his brother with a place to stay and tried helping him find a job.

"He was very upset about the fact that he had to list paperwork for applications that he had a kidnapping charge and that also he had a sex offender registration," said Jeff.

Jeff also mentioned in court about his brief interaction with the woman his brother murdered, Laura Ling.

"I personally discussed with her that she was a single mother and that she needed to take her children's welfare into in consideration over Stephen's," said Jeff.

Wu also took the stand as one of several doctors involved in the original trial. He said Stanko is suffering from an un-diagnosed case of temporal lobe epilepsy.

However, the lead doctor in the original trial said Stanko was a psychopath.

"I remember I had serious misgiving about both the medical accuracy of this diagnoses as well as the, I just didn't think it was an accurate diagnoses, but I was never really asked my opinion," said Wu.

The Attorney General's Office had one witness take the stand Tuesday afternoon, and a decision by the judge is yet to have been made.

Stanko is also facing the death penalty in Horry County for the death of Henry Lee Turner of Conway.

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