Stephen Barbee, Texas

Updated: Monday, September 30, 2019  10:18 am EDT

Stephen Dale Barbee was scheduled to be executed at 6 pm CDT, on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.  His execution has been stayed. Fifty-two-year-old Stephen is convicted of the murder of 34-year-old Lisa Underwood, and her 7-year-old son Jayden at their Fort Worth, Texas home on February 19, 2005. Lisa was also seven-months pregnant at the time of the murder. Stephen has been on death row in Texas for the last 13 years.

Stephen was a year away from graduating high school, when he dropped out, however, he eventually obtained his GED. Stephen lost both his siblings when they were each 20 years of age, resulting in a downward spiral for a time. However, he eventually got his life back on track, 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 seeing each other. 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 at the end of 2004. On February 19, 2005, Lisa’s family and friends held a baby shower for her, but she never arrived. They contacted the police who began investigating her disappearance.

Police checked our 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 observed to be wet and covered in mud. He gave a false name to the deputy and fled on foot. On February 21, 2005, Lisa vehicle was discovered 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 cleaning solution.


Later that day, police tracked Barbee, his 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, and while in there, 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 Jayden’s mouth and nose until he stopped breathing. Barbee attempted to defend himself, saying he was just trying to calm them down, however, evidence showed that both bodies had been severely beaten. He said he committed the crime because he thought Lisa was going to ruin his family and his relationship with his wife. This confession was not recorded. Barbee then gave another, recorded, confession to the police, however this confession was not allowed to be presented 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.


Just over one week before his scheduled execution, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a temporary stay of execution for Stephen Barbee.  They stay was granted after Stephen argued that the attorney at his original trial admitted Stephen's guilt, against Stephen's express wishes and despite Stephen pleading not guilty to the charges against him.  Stephen has said that he repeatedly told his lawyer that he wanted to maintain his innocence.  While Stephen's argument, that his 6th Amendment right was violated, was initially rejected, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has ordered further review of the case after a 2018 US Supreme Court decision in a Louisiana case.  Stephen and the state of Texas have been given 30 days to file the necessary paperwork.


Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Lisa and Jayden. Please pray for strength for the family of Stephen. 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 prior to his execution. Please pray that Stephen may find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.



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