Welch murder suspect in court today

Published 12:42 am Wednesday, December 16, 2009

VIDALIA — Accused murderer Michael Kelly Stevens will make his initial appearance in court today.

Stevens, 41, is scheduled for arraignment in Seventh Judicial District Court Division B this morning.

As the primary suspect in the bloody murder of Vidalia resident Mike Welch, who was found dead in his home with his throat slit Oct. 4, Stevens was indicted by a Concordia Parish grand jury on charges of first-degree murder.

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At arraignment, a suspect can enter a plea of “not guilty,” “not guilty by reason of insanity,” “no contest” or “guilty.”

Since his extradition from Harris County, Texas, Stevens has been detained on a $2 million bond set by Division B Judge Leo Boothe.

The victim’s family members said he lived alone, but according to police at the time of the murder, Welch was apparently letting Stevens stay in his home, and Stevens had even used Welch’s 804 Myrtle St., address when he registered as a sex offender locally.

The search for Stevens ended nine days after the murder was discovered, when Harris County sheriff’s deputies in Channelview, Texas, approached him for being in a park after closing hours. He was reportedly in the victim’s pickup truck.

The suspect reportedly tried to unsuccessfully swim away in the nearby Houston Ship Channel.

Because Stevens was indicted on charges of first-degree murder, he faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.

He is being represented by the public defender’s office.