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Husband on trial in wife’s murder

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A trial is under way this week in Kentucky involving a man accused of stabbing his wife to death. Both are former Charleston residents.

Charles "Steve" Lee, 44, was indicted by a grand jury on a charge of murder eight months after he said he found his wife, Leslie "Crickett" Lanham Lee, dead in their home.

The victim, aged 40, was a Charleston native. She and her husband had been married about a year but had lived together in Kentucky for several years after leaving West Virginia.

Both were involved with several motorcycle groups, including the Pagans, and she was an active advocate of various charities and causes. She established a memorial ride in honor of a young Kentucky girl who was a victim of a violent crime and supported causes for veterans.

She was honored by the Kentucky Legislature a month prior to her murder for her efforts in those activities.

But on March 3, 2011, Lee was stabbed in her bed in Greenup, Ky.

Commonwealth Attorney Clifford Duvall said Charles Lee told police he had been unable to sleep in the early morning hours that day. He said he watched "The First 48" on television and then got in his car and went for a drive.

When he returned, he testified this week, Crickett was lying in a pool of blood on their bed. The sheet that had been beneath her was gone. Her body already was growing cold and stiff, he told jurors.

Also gone was the woman's dog, a bulldog mix that was fiercely protective of her, Duvall said.

"He could be sweet, but he could be mean if you approached Crickett," the prosecutor said. "When police got to the scene, they couldn't find the dog. I thought it might be a key to the case if we could find anyone who was keeping the dog."

Instead, a neighbor spotted the dog 17 days later and called authorities. The dog was emaciated with bloody paws from traveling.

Duvall said testimony this week included information that the dog was found on a highway Lee said he took the night of the murder.

Other testimony this week included words from the defendant's best friend, who said Lee told him he lied about his story to police.

Duvall said, "He took the witness stand and said some men came in the middle of the night, stabbed her and told him to leave."

The trial is expected to continue next week.

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at cherylc@dailymail.com or 304-348-4832


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