Louisiana v. StockstillAnnotate this Case
Defendant Margaret Stockstill killed Cody Couch during an alcohol-fueled argument and physical fight in the home of Kristin Copeland on April 14, 2017, in Folsom, Louisiana. Couch and Copeland had a five-month-old daughter together, who was present in the home during the conflict along with Copeland’s six-year-old son. The conflict began when Couch, who had a pending DWI charge, borrowed defendant’s car to go out drinking with friends rather than spend the evening at home with Copeland. After Couch left, Copeland drank, complained to defendant about him, and angrily called and texted him at the bar repeatedly. Copeland set some clothing on fire in the yard and sent him a picture of it. Copeland told Couch not to return that night, piled some of his belongings on the porch, and locked him out. Couch eventually returned, entering through the back door. He refused to leave and the conflict escalated. Couch and the two women argued and fought. They fought throughout the home and broke furniture, including a crib with the youngest child still in it. The fight ended when defendant shot Couch once at close range. Defendant was indicted for second degree murder; she claimed self-defense. Defendant was ultimately convicted as charged, for which she was sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor without being eligible for parole. The Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction and sentence. Under the circumstances of this case, the Louisiana Supreme Court found there was a "reasonable possibility" that erroneously admitted evidence could have contributed to the jury’s decision to reject defendant’s claim that she acted in defense of herself or another, and to the jury’s decision to return a verdict of guilty of second degree murder rather than a verdict of guilty of manslaughter. The appellate court's ruling was reversed and the sentence vacated. The matter was remanded for a new trial.