Knifing at auto shop is Visalia man’s 3rd strike

Robert Lee Stephens faces life in prison after history of violence against his spouse, others

Robert Lee Stephens
48 years old


VISALIA – A Visalia man with a history of violence will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
On Jan. 4 Tulare County Superior Court Judge Gary Paden sentenced Robert Lee Stephens, 48, of Visalia, to 36 years-to-life in prison for assault with a deadly weapon, his third strike offense. A jury convicted Stephens on Sept. 12, 2018 of attempting to stab a man with a knife at a local auto shop.
The attempted stabbing happened on June 29, 2018. Stephens walked in to a Visalia auto shop office with a butcher knife and metal pipe and demanded to know the location of an unknown person. A shop employee told him that no one else was in the building. Stephens then walked out of the shop and paced in the street in front of the business for a short time. He then re-entered the business with the knife above his head.
During this, the shop employee called 911 and retrieved a baseball bat for self-defense. Stephens made a lunging motion with the knife at the employee, but backed down when confronted with the baseball bat and was taken into custody outside shortly after. Stephens told officers that he was looking for his ex-wife and her boyfriend who he believed were hiding at the location.
Stephens possesses prior strikes for armed robbery in 1995 and corporal injury to a spouse with the use of a weapon (metal rod) in 2004. Stephens has additional prior felony convictions for child abuse, evading an officer, and escaping from custody. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Kelly Habroun and investigated by Officer Nate Henry of the Visalia Police Department.

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