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Camden Co murder trial delayed for the eighth time

Steven Endsley is accused of killing his neighbors more than 4 years ago
Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 10:31 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The trial for a Camden County man charged with first degree murder is on hold again.

Steven Endsley has been sitting in jail for nearly four years after being charged in the deaths of two of his neighbors.

Authorities say Endsley stabbed 27 year-old Danielle Smith and strangled her mother, 61 year-old Teresa Jackson. Then, they say, he burned their mobile home with their bodies inside back in August of 2016.

A date has been set for his trial eight times, however, Monday it was cancelled again.

Laclede County, where the trial has been moved to, is operating under rules the Missouri Supreme Court set during the pandemic. All non-essential court business is on hold.

Smith and Jackson’s families will have to wait until next year for Endsley to face a jury, nearly 5 years after the women were killed.

“I love her. I will never forget about her. She will get what’s coming to her even if she’s here to see it or not. I’m never going to give up on her,” said Danielle’s sister, Heather Smith.

She says she and her family were finally ready to hear the details of how their sister and mother were killed.

But Steven Endlsey’s murder trial was put on hold for the eighth time in three years.

“It’s gone from crying every time I get upset when I hear about it to being extremely mad,” said Heather Smith.

After a series of delays, continuances, even a venue change from Camden to Laclede County, the trial has postponed for a second time due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It’s ridiculous. You can’t wear a mask in court? But you can sure go hang out with your friends, go grocery shopping, send kids to school. Everything’s okay then,” said Heather Smith.

Before the women were killed authorities say Endsley harassed them, though an order of protection was not filed. Reports filed with police indicate that Endsley didn’t agree with Danielle Smith’s lifestyle.

She said, “He’s got this whole bible mentality about how being gay was such a sin. She was a bad person because she was gay. Well, you know, you’re that much into Jesus Christ and God then how can you take the life of somebody else and think that is ok?”

Prosecutors argue that Endsley wanted to kill Danielle Smith because she was gay. Medical reports indicate that she was stabbed to death, her mother was strangled, before their bodies were burned.

Heather Smith believes Endsley thinks he won’t be held accountable.

“I think that he is just thinking that he’s going to skate by and something’s going to come up and they’re going to let him go,” she said.

Heather Smith says she will continue to fight for justice for her sister Danielle Smith and Danielle’s mother, Teresa Jackson.

“I don’t care how long he sits, it’s coming. It’s coming and I’ll make sure it does,” she said.

The the FBI initially joined the investigation.

Endsley wasn’t charged with a hate crime because in Missouri it’s not considered a separate crime but an enhancing factor. Prosecutors explained that he’s already facing the highest level of charges possible.

His trial has been rescheduled for June of 2021.

Endsley is being held in jail without bond.

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