Man sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to Wake Forest wife's death

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Lanson Stalf will spend the rest of his life in prison (WTVD)

A man accused of murdering his wife inside her Wake Forest home just two weeks after he was paroled on a bank robbery conviction, pleaded guilty to the crime during a court hearing Friday.

Lanson Stalf was sentenced to life in prison without parole for 34-year-old Stephanie Autry's death last October.

Stephanie Autry

On October 27, a nanny taking care of Autry's 3-year-old son asked police to check on the mother at her home on Iyar Way.

According to a warrant, when police arrived they noticed a broken window in the back of the home and found a bathroom door locked.

Inside the bathroom, they found Autry - who worked as a nurse at Duke - dead. Her head was covered in a plastic bag and a blanket covered the body. There was a hammer nearby and possible bloodstains on a sweatshirt close by.

During the hearing Friday, the prosecutor said Stalf hit Autry in the head with a hammer and forced her to tell him her ATM number before putting a plastic bag over her head and strangling her with a picture frame wire.

Stalf sat with his head down during the entire hearing, even as Autry's family spoke before the court.

Her sister, who is raising the couple's child, asked Stalf in front of the judge how he feels when his son asks, "Where's my mommy?"

"I wonder if Mr. Stalf has considered what it is like to have the little boy he helped bring into this world ask, 'Where is my mommy? When can I see mommy?' Or even, 'Why is my mommy dead and in heaven?' Well, I do," she said. "I have to hear these innocent questions and try to answer them. And time and time again my heart breaks for him."

Stephanie Autry and her son, Jude

A GoFundMe page has been started for Autry's son. Click here to donate.

According to family members, another sister was so stressed by their little sister's murder that she had a stroke and is still recovering.

Stalf was captured in Batesville, Mississippi days after Autry's death. He is also accused of robbing a bank in Mississippi before his arrest.

Stalf had just been released from prison on Oct. 15 for robbing the PNC bank in Wake Forest in 2013. Prior to that, he had been serving time in Louisiana for robbing a bank there just days after the robbery in Wake Forest.

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