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Seeking the death penalty in stabbing

St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney Jerrod Mahurin plans to seek the death penalty against a Park Hills man accused of stabbing his stepfather to death a year ago.

Justin Kozik, 27, of Park Hills, is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in connection with the Feb. 3, 2013, death of his stepfather, Steven Wells. Police say Wells was stabbed more than a dozen times.

On Wednesday, the day prosecutors and District Defender Wayne Williams were to set a trial date, the prosecutor’s office announced to Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Pratte that they plan to seek the death penalty — although the documents have not yet been submitted to the court. The case was passed and a special public defender assigned to capital cases will be appointed to Kozik’s case.

According to court records, officers were dispatched at about 9 p.m. Feb. 3, 2013, to 900 Tyler Street in Park Hills to a report of a domestic disturbance. Officers found Wells near the front door with a large knife still in his back. Another knife was found by his knee. There were more than a dozen stab wounds including some to the face and hands.

Kozik said, “He was all over me trying to stab me with a knife.”

Wells’ son told police that at about 8:54 p.m. he received a call from Kozik asking him to call 911. Kozik claimed Wells had tried to stab him with a knife. Wells’ son said he had never known his father to be violent.

When Kozik was interviewed by police he said “it was self defense.” He said he was going to leave and Wells did not want him to leave. Kozik claims Wells was on the couch asleep before he woke up and got up with two knives in his hand telling him that one of them was going to die.

He said they began to fight in the front foyer at which time he stabbed Wells in self defense.

Officers said Kozik changed his story several times during the 20-minute interview. The police interview ended when he asked for an attorney.

It’s believed the argument involved a woman Kozik had just broken up with.

He is also charged with first-degree burglary and misdemeanor stealing. According to court records, at about 2 a.m. on Feb. 2, 2013, Kozik broke into a Desloge home where his ex-girlfriend was staying. She said she woke up and heard a noise. She told police she saw Kozik in the hallway and ran screaming into her mother’s room. Her mother’s boyfriend chased after Kozik and he left out the front door.

Kozik was charged in October of 2010 for drugs and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. He also has misdemeanor domestic assault charges pending in Jefferson County.

Justin Kozik

Justin Kozik

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