View Full Version : GUILTY AZ - Elizabeth Byrd, 8, abducted & murdered, Phoenix, 23 May 2001

02-25-2004, 11:42 AM
'I love you' meant zip to mother of murderer

Feb. 25, 2004 12:00 AM

The mother took the witness stand and looked over at her son, silently mouthing words so easily said: "I love you."

If only she had acted like it a long time ago.

Kathy Newell's son, Steven, murdered 8-year-old Elizabeth Byrd as she walked to school on May 23, 2001. It took a jury 90 minutes to decide that he was the monster who tried to rape the child, then strangled her before dumping her into an irrigation ditch.

Now Newell is fighting for his life, contending that he, too, was strangled - emotionally, at least - by his lousy childhood.

It's a pathetic story that every meth-head mother should hear, every woman more concerned with her boyfriends than her babies. Every mother in name only.

Steven Ray Newell never met his father. Early on, he lived with his grandmother who offered the only stability the boy ever knew. Family members say his mother would disappear with boyfriends, leaving her own mother without the means to care for her two kids.

"She would take her welfare check and food stamps and be gone for weeks at a time," Kathy's sister, Connie Hendrick, told jurors on Monday, as they weighed whether to sentence Newell to death.

Steven was 10 when his grandmother died, leaving him and his sister, Tracy, in the loving arms of good old Mom. Who by that time had married Richard Links. From then on, life was mostly a succession of moves from one apartment to another, from one town to another, from one high to another.

"I don't believe we were ever in one place for longer than six months at a time," Kathy testified.

Money was always in short supply, and drugs were always the priority. The drug of choice, Kathy said, was methamphetamine. Richard said that whenever they got high, they had physical fights, often in front of the kids. They got high most every day.

While Kathy Newell described herself as a good mother and son Steven as a mama's boy, her daughter Tracy said it wasn't exactly a Norman Rockwell existence. Holidays, she said, were the worst. "Food flying, presents flying, fighting. We'd try to bypass holidays, me and Steven did, because there was no point in even trying to have a holiday with our family."

Steven left home for the first time when he was 11. By 13, he was snorting meth with his stepfather, who explained that he was only trying to cheer the boy up. It seems Steven was depressed. His mother was living in Las Vegas at the time and, despite several promises, had not yet returned to Phoenix. "I'd send her money to come home, and she didn't show up," Richard testified.

Kathy told jurors she could no longer provide for her son by the time he was 13. He dropped out of seventh grade and drifted from the family of one friend to another.

By the time he was 17, he was living with his 15-year-old girlfriend. By 19, he was into alcohol and drugs and not much else.

According to court records, Steven got drunk one night in February 2000 and put a knife to a woman's throat, forcing her to drive around for 90 minutes while he raved on about how she would never go for a guy like him. After asking if he could fondle her breasts, he told the woman to drive out to the desert. Fortunately, she got away before he could rape her. Unfortunately, he got a plea deal that had him out of jail in six months.

Five months later, Elizabeth Byrd was dead.

On Tuesday, Steven Newell tearfully apologized and tried to explain. As if he ever could. Steven said he was trying kill himself by overdosing on crystal meth because he had nothing going in his life. Instead of killing himself, however, he killed Elizabeth.

"My mother told me I couldn't amount to anything," he said. "She was right. I'm sorry."

You listen to the guy, and you almost feel sorry for him. Until you remember that an 8-year-old girl is in her grave.

And that Kathy Newell didn't turn her son into a monster. That was his own doing. But you wonder, as you watch her leave the stand and again mouth those empty words: "I love you."

What might have been different if she had meant it?

LP Moderator
02-25-2004, 11:58 AM
I say fry him. :twocents:

02-25-2004, 12:00 PM
a nice idea would to be to fry him with her sitting on his lap. Personally I don't feel sorry for him in the least.

LP Moderator
02-25-2004, 12:01 PM
Me either. I think the so-called "mother" deserves a little worse than this guy, but lots of people have grown up in worse conditions, doesn't make them go out and murder children. The "abuse excuse" at work again!!! :doh:

02-25-2004, 12:10 PM
Amen.. I agree with your 2 cents totally!

02-25-2004, 12:12 PM
I agree, fry them both! :mad:

02-25-2004, 01:01 PM
I too agree that the death penalty is probably the best thing for this man!!!

But with that said I have to say that there are many children even in the 1st and 2nd grade that you can look at and know that this is what they will become. I worked as an elementary school secretary for two years while my husband went to college. There was a little boy in our school (2nd grade)who had a mother I often saw stumbling drunk hanging on one man or another on our towns main street. This young man had been using alcohol, had smoked pot with his older teen siblings, been shot in the leg, witnessed his sister having sex with their stepfather and who knows what was done to him. His father was in prison, his mother a tramp and a drunk. We always kept two changes of clothing for him in the office because he rarely had clean clothes and always smelled bad. He would change clothes and bathe in a bathroom at school and we would take the other clothes home and wash them. Anyway, his behavior was so odd that the staff was instructed to never be alone with him. Twice we had to call the police to come remove him from the boys bathroom. He brought a knife to school and threatened to kill another little boy. Another time he was caught massaging a classmates butt (girl). They could not prove anything that would have had him legally removed from home or the classroom right away so we had to hire a teacher to teach him in the office. He spent 4 weeks in there with us and the sad part of it all is that he loved it in there. He found that if he behaved we would show him the love and respect he earned. That was probably the only time in his life that he felt safe and loved. His behavior outside of the office remained the same. He was not able take any of that love out of that room. After that time he was transferred to a home that is basically a jail for young children. His sadistic behavior will never change it is ingrained in him. I would bet all of my money and my first born that he will grow up and kill somebody and molest children. The thing is that he never had a chance! His mother and father set the course for his entire life by the time he attended kindergarten. He and society as a whole would have been better off if they had killed him. Why oh why are people like this allowed to have children???? It is often (not always) true that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. After all they don't have the ability to walk away. :( :( :( :(

02-25-2004, 01:10 PM
Man, you guys sure went out of your way for him. Thats something else! I wouldn't condemn him just yet, you never know what little seed planted by you all will grow. Stranger things have happened. I see kids like that at my daughter's school. One kid didn't even have a coat when there was snow. I bought a coat for him and gave it anonymously. He is a dicipline problem and seems to have no idea how to relate to anyone. I invited him to my daughter's birthday party at the skating rink , and hoped for the best. This kid is GREAT if you give him a chance. He had never been skating and I helped him. 10 yrs old and he had no idea how to skate. He was so happy about skating and I think he was happy an adult gave a crap to teach him and be patient. There are other kids I am scared to even speak to, but there was something about this boy that hit me. I believe he will have a chance if he is given one.
I am not a saint and I generally don't like kids. Just my own. I am and have never been a kid person, but how hard is it for each of us to get over whatever problems we have personally and give a kid a chance? This is a small town and I hope he can make deicsions that wont have him in a trailer park with no electricity and no coat for his children when he is an adult.

02-25-2004, 04:42 PM
This is a small town and I hope he can make deicsions that wont have him in a trailer park with no electricity and no coat for his children when he is an adult.
Amen to that!