Local News

Parole denied for Durham woman who killed husband

Posted May 12, 2009
Updated May 13, 2009

— A Durham County woman convicted 20 years ago of killing her husband was denied parole this week.

Russell Stager, a baseball coach at Durham High School, was fatally shot on Feb. 1, 1988. His second wife, Barbara Stager, told authorities she accidentally jostled a gun he kept under his pillow, and the gun went off, killing him while he slept.

Prosecutors didn't believe Barbara Stager's story, and a jury convicted her of first-degree murder in 1989. Part of the evidence against her was the fact that her first husband, Larry Ford, also was killed in his bed in what she said was another accidental shooting.

Randolph County authorities ruled Ford's death an accident and have never found additional evidence to file any criminal charges in the case.

Russell and Barbara Stager, now 60, married less than a year after Ford's death, according to Jo Lynn Snow, Russell Stager's first wife.

Snow, who remained on good terms with her ex-husband, said two months before he died, he told her his new marriage was plagued by money problems and infidelity and that he had become suspicious of his wife.

"He asked me, if anything ever happened to him, would I please look into it," Snow told WRAL News last month.

Barbara Stager's was originally sentenced to death. But that sentence was overturned on a procedural issue, and the life sentence she subsequently received made her eligible for parole in 2009.

The North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission denied Barbara Stager's parole this week, according to Snow.


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  • familyfour May 13, 2009

    That must have been a big procedural error....gatsby

    Must have been. I bet you both her husbands wish they'd have had the opportunity for procedural error, and not been shot and killed.

    I don't know what kind of error spared her life......when she could not spare them.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU May 13, 2009

    Where are all the "give her the needle" folks now? Oh, that's right...this premeditated murderer is female and white...and the exact same incident with her first husband must have been an accident. Nothing to see here folks. Move along.

  • Gatsby May 13, 2009

    Every breath she takes is one step closer to the Mighty Judge who will sentence her and all the other killers throughout history to the punishment they so rightly deserve...

    No worries...Its coming & she cannot dodge that one

  • beachboater May 13, 2009

    Hard to believe that someone who received the death penalty could possibly be considered for parole.

    That must have been a big procedural error.

  • uncfan89 May 13, 2009

    Life in Prison should mean Life in Prison, the family should not have to revisit this every few years. Their should be no parole for people given life. She has done this twice so what would stop her from doing it again if she gets out.

  • Willow GiGgLeSnoRt May 13, 2009

    this woman is COLD BLOODED

  • luvbailey May 12, 2009

    I grew up with Russell and knew his parents and sister. All of them were the nicest people. I am glad Barbara was denied parole. Too bad she couldn't be sentenced under today's sentencing program - she would have gotten life without parole, and the family would not have to revisit this tragedy every few years.

  • Deep Thought May 12, 2009

    My mother worked with Russ and knew his family. This was a terrible thing to happen to anybody but he was such a nice man. I hope she never gets out.

  • ladyinblue72 May 12, 2009

    murderers belong behind bars..

  • whocares May 12, 2009

    Thank goodness. She should never get out for what she did.