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Accused killer goes to court

Posted: November 14, 2008 10:11 p.m.
Updated: November 15, 2008 4:59 a.m.

Michael Dean Stephens, 19.

 
SAN FERNANDO - Patricia Wise sat alone clutching her Bible in a San Fernando Superior Court room Friday as her family waited outside.

She still mourns the loss of her grandson, Joshua Pipho, and knows the family of his accused murderer shares her pain.

"There's nothing worse than a loss. I am grieving for my grandson and (the Stephens) family's loss," Wise said.

Michael Dean Stephens, 19, allegedly confronted Pipho during a party at the Diamond Head condo complex in Stevenson Ranch on Nov. 24, 2007, according to a Los Angeles County District Attorney spokesperson.

Stephens allegedly stabbed Pipho, then drove over him with a car. When Pipho's friend, Chad Weitz, came to Pipho's aid, Stephens allegedly ran down Weitz and stabbed him 17 times. Doctors treated Weitz for a punctured lung and major blood loss.

Stephens is charged with murder and attempted premeditated murder because he had time to think about the alleged assault. If convicted on both counts, he could face two life sentences, a district attorney spokesperson said.

The preliminary hearing drew a crowd of more than 50 people, most of whom were friends or relatives of Pipho and wore black shirts paying tribute to the victim.

Wise said the black shirts help everyone remember her grandson. She hopes her grandson's legacy will save other lives.

"My relationship with God pulls me through. What the enemy wants for evil, God has turned into good," she said.

Pipho started working with his father months prior to his murder, said Dennis Pipho, Joshua Pipho's dad.

The two worked weekends traveling to different Southern California locations installing sound and video systems. Dennis Pipho taught his son the trade and the two bonded.

"We spent a lot of time traveling to places for work and in hotel rooms. He loved the work and was earning the respect of his co-workers," Dennis Pipho said.

Stephens surrendered to Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies at the Lennox station Nov. 28, 2007.

Sheriff's deputies searched Stephens' home earlier that day and issued a warrant for his arrest based on evidence found there, Lt. Dan Rosenberg said.

The news of Stephens' arrest was little comfort for the victim's family, Dennis Pipho said.

"It's just so unfortunate," he said. "It's a no-win situation. Everyone's a loser in this deal."

Family and friends waited through court delays Friday as the proceedings were moved to another courtroom to accommodate the large audience.

"It is very difficult as a parent. You want closure, but you're hostage to the system," Dennis Pipho said.

Wise said she hopes no family is forced to endure what her family has gone through. But she insists that the world has turned into an ugly place.

"It's sad that the streets of Santa Clarita and the world are so perverted with violence," she said.

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