‘It went from fun to a nightmare in half a second’: Buda man found guilty of murder, evidence tampering

Hays

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — A man accused in a 2018 Buda murder was found guilty by a jury Tuesday afternoon.

Mark Stevens was found guilty of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in connection with the death of Brandon Fontenette. Stevens was convicted of shooting Fontenette with a BB gun, strangling and stabbing him. Fontenette was found dead in Stevens’ home, according to court testimony.

According to evidence, Stevens hid Fontenette’s wallet and phone in a baggy prosecutors believe he was going to get rid of. Prosecutors said Fontenette’s keys were also found in Stevens’ pants.

In closing arguements, state prosecutors really emphasized they feel Stevens killed Fontenette after he and Jeanettee, Stevens’ wife, had sex in the married couple’s bedroom while Stevens was there. 

According to testimony, they all left a bar and went back to the Stevens’ home together with possible plans to be sexually intimate. At some point, evidence showed the two did have oral sex with Fontenette. 

But prosecutors said Stevens got jealous and snapped on Fontenette, stabbing him in the back.

The defense, in its closing argument, said it was Fontenette who attacked Stevens, saying Stevens was defending himself and Jeanette, who they claimed was being sexually assaulted by Fontenette. According to a recorded interview with police, Stevens said he asked Fontenette to leave repeatedly, but he wouldn’t.

The facts from testimony and evidence show Stevens did change his statement several times, and his injuries didn’t reflect he was attacked as bad as he said he was. Still, not all blood splatters at the crime scene were tested. 

The defense also argued Stevens was ignorant and in shock, which is why he didn’t call 911. But as Fontenette’s body was found nearly 10 hours later, the prosecutors rebutted Stevens used that time to try to cover it up.

“Literally the first thing he does when he was confronted by law enforcement was put himself in handcuffs, because he knows what he did was wrong,” a state prosecutor said.

In one of his final statements played to the court, Stevens said he and his wife were both assaulted by Fontenette.

“It went from fun to a nightmare in half a second,” Stevens said.

During the trial jurors watched body camera video of when officers first responded to Stevens’ home, where Fontenette died. They also heard audio of a phone call between Stevens and his brother. Stevens called to ask for help getting rid Fontenette’s body and never called 911.

“‘Is there anyway you can pull it off as an accident or suicide or something?'” Stevens’ brother asked on the audio.

Stevens told his brother that wouldn’t be possible, but the two continued plotting.

“He’s a nobody,” Stevens said.

“He’s dead, you can make up any story you want,” Stevens’ brother encouraged.

There was also hours of surveillance video, detective interviews and more in evidence.

Fontenette’s father, brother and other loved ones wept happy tears outside of the court room after learning of the guilty verdict. One relative even dropped to her knees, overwhelmed with emotion.

“Just relieved,” Fontenette’s father, Kerry Fontenette, said. “It feels like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders. [These emotions] are just things that have built up over the years. They’re still going to be there. This doesn’t bring Brandon back.”

But Kerry said he does feel like justice was served.

Stevens pleaded not guilty to murder and tampering with evidence charges July 7. The trial was originally scheduled for the summer of 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jeanette will also see her day in court starting July 15. She’s being accused of what her husband was just convicted of: first-degree murder and tampering with evidence.

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