A few days after two women were found brutally murdered in their West Valley trailer home, Steven Ray Stout found himself sleeping in a snow drift up City Creek Canyon.
He had blood on his clothes and shoes.But all he could remember was being slapped by his wife's stepmother in her trailer.
When night fell, Stout slipped into the city, bought a newspaper and learned he was wanted in the Jan. 22, 1988, murders of the stepmother, Bonnie Craft, 41, and her daughter, Maureen Turner, 18.
Testifying in his own defense, Stout, 33, took the witness stand Friday to tell 3rd District Judge James Sawaya he can't remember any details of the homicides.
Nevertheless, he said he has accepted full responsibility for the crimes and wanted to say something to the family of the victims.
Before he could get a phrase out of his mouth, Craft's mother bolted out of the courtroom in apparent disgust.
"I know all of you hate me, no doubt," Stout said, turning to face the victims' family. "I can't blame you for that. You suffered a great loss. I wish I could give my life for you to bring them back . . . I want you to know I'm willing to pay for what I've done with my life.
"I hope the day will come that you can forgive me," said Stout in a slow, subdued, deep voice. "I'm sorry for what's happened . . . I had nothing against Bonnie and Maureen."
Prosecutors are trying to secure the death penalty for Stout, who pleaded guilty in September to capital murder and second-degree murder.
Defense attorneys are arguing that Stout suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome, or "shell shock," caused by his childhood. They say the disorder was aggravated by marital and legal troubles, causing Stout to lose control the day of the killings.
Questioned by defense attorney Brooke Wells, Stout told the court that his life was falling apart in the fall of 1987 and in January 1988.
His wife had filed for divorce and was keeping him from seeing his kids. He believed the criminal justice system had turned against him, the police and probation officers siding with his wife.
"It seemed everything I was working for was going down the drain . . . I felt real lonely."
His problems began during his childhood, according to the testimony of two of Stout's sister, who described how their parents had divorced when the six Stout children were under the age of 10.
After the divorce, the other children were terrorized by the oldest brother, who inflicted daily beatings and other forms of punishment.
When Stout married Sharon Craft in the mid-1970s, he felt he could finally raise a family the way he'd always wanted his family to be.
"I wanted to be a real good father to both of my boys . . . I really tried," said Stout.
A few years into the marriage, he learned that his wife suffered depression and that she had had an incestuous relationship with her father, Jim Craft, who later married Bonnie Craft.
Stout served a short time in prison in Ohio after shooting another man in the face with a shotgun during a fight. That fight, Stout testified Friday, triggered memories of the beatings he suffered as a child at the hands of his older brother.
"I couldn't stand anyone to put their hands on me."
On Thursday, Jan. 21, the night before the Craft-Turner homicides, Stout was "crushed" by what was happening to him. He hadn't visited with his boys since Halloween and didn't think he would get to before the following Monday when he was to begin serving jail time for violating a court order to stay away from his wife. He was also facing two felony charges he claims were trumped up as a result of the divorce proceedings. He was sleeping on his boss' concrete basement floor.
The next morning, he took the bus to West Valley and walked to the Craft trailer, thinking no one was home. He entered the home to get a rifle, so he could shoot himself, maybe Jim Craft, maybe his wife.
While inside, he was surprised by Bonnie Craft and her daughter, Turner, who tried to phone police. Stout pushed her out of the way and was slapped by Bonnie Craft.
"I snapped," Stout said.
Though Stout can't remember what happened next, police and a coroner testified that Craft was beaten about the head and stabbed in the back. Turner was beaten, stabbed and strangled.
Stout is scheduled to be cross-examined Monday afternoon, after which the defense will call a psychiatrist.