Mistrial in murder trial

Judge declares a mistrial during jury selection in Steven Endsley trial

Joyce L. Miller

Jury selection in the trial of Steven Endsley, a Camdenton man accused of murdering a mother and daughter who were his neighbors nearly five years ago was halted, resulting in the judge declaring a mistrial.

Circuit Court Judge Micheal Hayden’s ruling of a mistrial sent nearly 100 perspective jurors home. The victim’s family members were notified early Monday afternoon that the court proceedings had been cancelled. The mistrial appears to have been based on comments made by a perspective juror which could have tainted others during the selection process. The comments were made in the courtroom during jury selection.

A hearing has been set for July 6 to reset the date and location of the  trial. The trial had been moved to Laclede County on a change of venue. A new location is expected to be set at the upcoming hearing.

Steven Ray Endsley was 54-years-old when he was arrested in September of 2016 and charged with two counts of murder, armed criminal action, burglary, and arson. Endsley is accused of killing his neighbors, Danielle Smith and her mother, Teresa A. Jackson. Endsley was a neighbor of the women who lived in a trailer park near Camdenton on Floyds Drive off of South Business Route 5. The bodies of Jackson and Smith were discovered in the remains of their burned-out trailer home on the morning of August 29, 2016. According to autopsy results, the women were murdered — stabbed multiple times — prior to the home being set on fire. In addition to both women being stabbed, Jackson also had injuries consistent with strangulation. At the time of the murders, the Camden County Sheriff’s Department, assisted by the FBI, indicated the murders and fire were being investigated as a hate crime stemming from an ongoing disagreement with the neighbors over sexual orientation. Police had been called to the trailer on previous occasions and one of the victims had made social media posts about incidents.

The same evening as the fire, Endsley had allegedly been drinking and made threats during a conversation to another person that he would burn the trailer down “if I could get away with it,” referring to Teresa and Danielle’s home. He was also heard making derogatory statements about Danielle, based on information in the probable cause statement. The court documents did not identify what was used as an accelerant in the fire. The probable cause statement indicates two different areas of the mobile home showed signs of accelerant, one near where each of the victims were found. Video surveillance tape pulled from several locations near the trailer home showed two vehicles leaving the area around the time of the fire. One of the vehicles matched the description of Danielle Smith’s car that was taken from the home, later found abandoned in Laclede County. Another vehicle in the video matched that of Endsley’s tan van. Endsley was taken into custody at his sister’s home.

Endsley has been held without bond since his arrest.