Sheila Polk: The Case of the Left-Handed 7 Wood


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Story by Sheila Polk, Yavapai County Attorney.

Drive north on Williamson Valley to Bridle Path and you will arrive at the house of one of Prescott’s most notorious murder scenes. The murderer, once a well-to-do stockbroker named Stephen DeMocker, is serving a life sentence in the Arizona State Prison. His victim was his ex-wife, Carol Kennedy, an artist, and avid gardener.

Sheila Polk is in her 20th year serving as the Yavapai County Attorney. Her office prosecuted the case against Stephen DeMocker for the first-degree murder of his ex-wife, Carol Kennedy.

On the evening of July 2, 2008, Carol was in her Prescott home chatting on the phone with her mother thousands of miles away in Nashville. Suddenly, her mother heard Carol exclaim, “Oh, no!” and the line went dead. Carol’s mother called the police when she and other family members couldn’t reach Carol.

Law enforcement arrived at the house to find Carol in a pool of blood, her skull shattered by at least seven blows to the head. The county medical examiner would later testify that the blows were similar in shape to a golf club.

The subsequent investigation revealed a motive and a vast array of circumstantial evidence. Although the golf head cover for a left-handed Big Bertha 7-wood was recovered, the golf club itself was never found.

After many legal delays, the trial finally commenced in a Yavapai County courtroom in downtown Prescott. Tragically, the original trial judge, Judge Thomas Lindberg, a long-time highly respected colleague of mine, collapsed on the bench during the trial. He was soon diagnosed with glioblastoma and passed away eighteen months later.

A second trial began and the Yavapai County Attorney’s prosecutors laid out the evidence for the jury: the nasty divorce; DeMocker’s obligation to pay $6,000 monthly alimony payments; his growing debt; his $750,000 insurance policies on Carol’s life; and Carol’s daily routine of a run in the woods behind her home. The scene was staged to look like Carol had fallen from a reading ladder in her living room, striking her head on the corner of a desk. Uncharacteristically, DeMocker was out of mobile phone contact during the hours of Carol’s death. Shoe prints and bicycle tread marks located near Carol’s home matched DeMocker’s footwear and his bicycle tires, and DeMocker himself had scratched arms and legs.

A forensic exam of DeMocker’s computer revealed the purchase of books on how to evade authorities. DeMocker’s girlfriend would eventually lead detectives to DeMocker’s getaway bag with a burner phone and clothing stashed near the 8th hole of what is today called the Capital Canyon Golf Course.

From the county jail, DeMocker arranged for an associate to send an anonymous email to the sheriff claiming that gang members had killed Carol. DeMocker also claimed to hear voices through the jail vents telling him Carol was killed by two men from Phoenix.

In 2013, the second jury convicted DeMocker on all counts. Appeals followed, and on July 28, 2017, nine years after the murder, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld the verdicts.

And what of the missing golf club? To this day when I hike the trails north of Prescott, I can’t help but scan the landscape. Somewhere, down a ravine or perhaps buried under a pile of rocks, lies a weathered seven-wood, the murder weapon from one of Prescott’s most notorious murders.

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10 responses to “Sheila Polk: The Case of the Left-Handed 7 Wood”

  1. Paige Price says:

    The “associate” you mentioned was his daughter. The insurance money went to the children they, in turn, chose to use it to pay their dad’s legal fees. A golf club was not identified as “the” murder weapon only that a golf club might have been used as well as other items might have been. The golf club only came into the case after searching the defendant’s house. No DNA or fingerprints were found at the scene. The “missing” shoes had been purchased 2 years prior. The bike tread is of a tire on 80% of mountain bikes sold in the U.S. There was a DNA screw up in the lab which should have ended the trial right there. This was a good story with no evidence that destroyed a family. Too many people in America are being convicted on good stories but no evidence.

    • Sasha Liles says:

      Hi Steve’s daughter!

    • PHIL DAIGLE says:

      I feel the same way … his DNA was not found at the crime scene , no murder weapon found, they are not even sure what the murder weapon was .. bike tracks could have been anybody’s as they said trails were used frequently. Steven DeMocker just doesn’t seem like a killer to me , his story is suspect for sure but guy living on the property who kills himself 3 months later and had his finger prints and blood all over the crime scene wasn’t thoroughly investigated in my opinion . Steven DeMocker made a lot of stupid mistakes and had a lot of circumstantial evidence that made him look guilty but not enough IMO to get past reasonable doubt !! RUN THE DNA FOUND UNDER HER FINGERTIPS IN THE NATIONAL DATA BASE AND THIS MAN WILL GO FREE !!

  2. Ricardo says:

    I just saw the 2 hour ‘Dateline’ TV presentation of this murder…..his DNA NEVER FOUND at murder scene?….police CANNOT put him at crime scene?…hmm.
    After watching this I just wonder if his girlfriend was somehow never really looked at more closely…. she was not discussed much during the show. Even with all the evidence there is something here that does not seem right. Also separately read he lost his case in his appeal to the Appellate Court a couple yrs ago….yet I still have the feeling something is amiss here.

  3. Kathy says:

    He had no alibi, bike tracks going to her house match, left handed golf club missing…he was a lefty, didn’t want to pay monthly alimony. His story at time of murder doesn’t make sense. Bike ride until you get flat tire; then you go to gym to work out without calling home until after 10 pm. Guilty, with lots of circumstantial evidence. Guy is a. sleaze bag wrapped in an educated, privileged, arrogant body.

    • Armchair says:

      Crazy case. Crazy because while there was solid circumstantial evidence pointing to the defendant, and while he had a motive and did other things that seemed to incriminate him, there was no direct evidence of him being at the scene of the crime. We never hear his explanation of what happened to the missing golf club. The investigators did not seem to take a very hard look at the oddball renting the cottage next to the victim’s house–a man who seemed to have a bit of an obsession with the victim. We are told in the Dateline show that his DNA, mixed with blood, was on a door handle leading from the victim’s house to his cottage. Wouldn’t that be a hugely significant finding? I would think so. And his fingerprints were on papers in the victim’s house–papers said to be printed out on the day of the murder. That would also seem significant. And then he shot and killed himself, apparently. Why? All of that info would make me, as a juror, wonder about who actually committed the crime. I also wonder why the ex-husband defendant would tell his girlfriend at the time about a getaway bag he hid in a hole at a golf course. Tough case–as there is evidence pointing at both men.

  4. Jennifer Robbins says:

    REASONABLE doubt….. how can the jury not find doubt of ANY kind in this case???? I understand that alot if the circumstantial evidence is definitely damning BUT actual evidence, putting him AT the crime was not found!!! This is not how our justice system should work…. your belief isn’t enough… you can think he is definitely guilty but how can you definitely decide with that evidence! Even if he is guilty, I do not see how, after 5 years, the DAs office could never clearly put him at the murder. This kind of case and outcome scares me for all of us who might be peripherally involved in these kind of horror nightmares.

  5. Linda says:

    Coinincidences don’t happen…Stephen DeMocker brutally murdered his ex-wife…he’s where he should be for the remainder of his life.

    Very sad for all involved.

  6. William E Williams says:

    I wrote the first book about the investigation; yes there was a peculiar renter in the guest house who was really never looked at; he was asked to move out and later his death in a cheezy Prescott apartment was ruled a suicide, even with multiple spent shell casings from various guns found on the floor. I also posted the phone call with the daughter and Steven on Youtube. But to this day, me – a 50 year veteran of journalism – I’m not sure Steven is guilty.

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