Court Stays Texas Execution of Stephen Barbee

Stephen Barbee, Texas

Updated: Monday, October 11, 2021

Stephen Dale Barbee was scheduled to be executed at 6 pm local time on Tuesday, October 12, 2021, inside the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.  His execution has been stayed. Fifty-four-year-old Stephen is convicted of murdering 34-year-old Lisa Underwood and her 7-year-old son Jayden.  Lisa and Jayden were killed at their Fort Worth, Texas home on February 19, 2005. Lisa was seven months pregnant at the time of her death. Stephen has been on death row in Texas for the last 15 years.

Stephen was a year away from graduating high school when he dropped out.  He eventually obtained his GED. Stephen lost both his siblings when they were each 20 years of age, resulting in a downward spiral. He eventually began working as a police officer and operating a tree-trimming and concrete cutting business with his ex-wife, Theresa, from whom he was divorced. Stephen was also a member of a local church, where he worked with children.

Lisa Underwood, a bagel shop owner in Fort Worth, Texas, met Stephen Barbee, a customer, and the two eventually started dating. In July 2004, Lisa became pregnant and believed Barbee was the father (DNA tests would later prove Barbee was not the father). Barbee married another woman near the end of 2004. 

On February 19, 2005, Lisa’s family and friends held a baby shower, but she never arrived. They contacted the police, who began investigating her disappearance.

Police checked her home, which did not appear to have been broken into. However, Lisa’s blood was discovered throughout the living room. Police also visited Theresa (Barbee’s ex-wife) to inquire about Barbee’s whereabouts. Theresa urged Barbee to turn himself in.

On the day of Lisa’s disappearance, unbeknownst to Fort Worth detectives, Barbee was stopped by a deputy sheriff along a service road. Barbee was wet and covered in mud. He gave a false name to the deputy and fled on foot. On February 21, 2005, Lisa’s vehicle was found in a creek, about 300 yards from where the deputy had stopped Barbee. The windows were down and, in the rear of the vehicle, police discovered a cleaning solution.

Later that day, police tracked Barbee, Barbee’s current wife, and another co-worker, Ronald Dodd, to a job site in Tyler, Texas. All agreed to go to the Tyler police station for questioning. In his first interview with police, Barbee stated that he had not seen nor heard from Lisa in months. 

After his initial statement, Barbee asked to use the bathroom.  While in the bathroom, Barbee confessed to a detective that he killed Lisa. Barbee said he started a fight with Lisa and held her face down on the carpet until she stopped breathing. He then held his hand over the mouth and nose of Lisa’s son, Jayden, until he stopped breathing. Barbee attempted to defend himself, saying he was only trying to calm them down. 

Evidence showed that both bodies received a severe beating. Barbee said he committed the crime because he thought Lisa was going to ruin his family and his relationship with his wife. There is no recording of this confession. Barbee then gave another confession to the police that was recorded. However, this confession was not allowed to be used at the trial.

The day after confessing, Barbee took police to the location of the two buried bodies. A few days later, Barbee recanted his confession.

Barbee was convicted and sentenced to death on February 27, 2006.

Stephen Barbee previously had an execution date in 2019.  There were concerns that his initial trial attorney violated Stephen’s rights, resulting in a stay of execution.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas has ordered Stephen’s execution be halted.  Stephen claims his religious rights are being violated, as his chosen spiritual advisor cannot have physical contact with him in the execution chamber.  He is not the first Texas death row inmate to have his execution halted for this reason.

Pray for peace and healing for the family of Lisa and Jayden. Pray for strength for the family of Stephen Barbee. Please pray that if Stephen is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be presented before his execution. Pray that Stephen may find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

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