, Salem, MA

Local News

October 29, 2013

Chappell guilty in slaying

Jury rejects insanity defense in social worker's stabbing


“The facts established that this defendant planned Stephanie’s murder and planned to get away with it,” Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley said yesterday. “He waited until he was alone with her. He took steps to cover up the crime, flee the scene and escape accountability. This verdict was a rejection of the defense that he was not criminally responsible for his actions, and I hope it provides some satisfaction to Stephanie’s family.”

Daniel Solomon, in his argument to jurors last week, cited Chappell’s history of mental illness, including a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and his statements to doctors that he was hearing voices, including that of Moulton, commanding him to kill her.

The verdict came after about a day and a half of deliberations, during which one juror had to be excused and replaced with an alternate due to a family emergency, according to the docket. That forced the jurors to start their deliberations anew on Friday.

An appeal is automatic in all first-degree murder convictions in Massachusetts.

Kimberly Flynn, Moulton’s mother, recalled her daughter in a victim impact statement as someone who was “book smart but also street smart ... She would have made a big difference in this world.”

Flynn said she was “a little shocked” as the verdict was announced, having steeled herself for the possibility that Chappell would be found not guilty — and possibly set free in 45 days, a prospect that terrified her, she said.

She said she mouthed the words “thank you” to the jurors. “They were really great.”

The Moultons struggle with questions.

“How could this have happened?” Diane Moulton asked. “Why did this happen to her? These are questions that we still struggle to understand to this day. The grief and devastation that Stephanie’s death has had on her family is impossible to convey. The emptiness, sense of loss and heartache cannot be put into words.”

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