Buda couple arrested on murder charges

By Katie Burrell and Moses Leos III

A Buda area couple was charged with murder Dec. 18 in connection with a July incident that left an Austin man dead in their home. 

Mark James Stevens, 38, and Jeanette Lauralee Stevens, 38, were booked into the Hays County Jail on felony murder charges related to the death of Brandon Lamont Fontenette, 26. 

Fontenette

According to an arrest affidavit magistrated by Hays County Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Beth Smith, authorities were originally dispatched July 26 to the 200 block of Brandons Way in Buda for a welfare concern call made by Steven’s father, who said his son had been in an altercation the night before. 

When authorities arrived, Mark Stevens “refused” to explain what happened, but suggested another person was inside the home, according to the affidavit. Deputies eventually discovered the body of a man, later identified as Fontenette, in the master bathroom, who they suspected had been dead “for several hours.” According to the affidavit, Mark Stevens had placed a pair of black handcuffs on himself during the initial interaction with law enforcement. 

Mark Stevens initially told authorities that he and his wife met Fontenette at a local Kyle bar the night before. After the restaurant closed, Fontenette followed them home, but got into an altercation with Mark Stevens in the master bathroom. 

According to the affidavit, Jeanette Stevens said an altercation took place around 4 a.m. July 26, which was the result of Fontenette attempting to become “sexually physical” with her. After Mark Stevens confronted Fontenette, Jeanette Stevens said they both “resolved their issues.” Jeanette Stevens said she allegedly had no knowledge of another altercation or that Fontenette was dead in the home until officers arrived. 

Authorities accused the couple of relaying different versions of what happened that night, according to the affidavit.

In a July 30 interview, Mark Stevens said Fontenette referenced a desire to engage in sex with him and his wife; Mark Stevens agreed to allow Fontenette to watch them. 

Mark Stevens said Fontenette allegedly attempted to force his way between the couple when they started to kiss. 

According to the affidavit, Mark Stevens said he ran out the bedroom and retreived a BB gun and a knife. When he returned to the room, he saw Fontenette standing over his wife who was lying on the ground. 

Mark Stevens told authorities he fired the gun at Fontenette as he walked toward him. He later stabbed Fontenette, who stumbled into the bathroom. After calling his brother, Mark Stevens said he went back into the bedroom, where he slept until authorities arrived.

Jeanette Stevens said she knew Fontenette and her husband were fighting while she lay in the bedroom; she allegedly told authorities she saw her husband shoot and later stab Fontenette. Following the altercation, Jeanette Stevens said she went into her son’s room and slept there after he had left to go to a friend’s house. Jeanette Stevens said she didn’t call law enforcement or check on Fontenette. 

Authorities contacted Mark Steven’s brother Aug. 9, according to the affidavit. Mark Steven’s brother said he was informed that Mark had stabbed Fontenette and was asked to assist with getting rid of the body. Mark Steven’s brother said he didn’t think he was serious, but later called his father, who initiated the welfare check. 

According to the affidavit, law enforcement found Fontenette’s car keys in the shorts Mark Stevens wore that evening, as well as personal items in a plastic Ziplock bag. Authorities said no calls were made to 911 that night, according to the affidavit.

Mark and Jeanette Stevens are each being held in the Hays County Jail on $250,000 bond.

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