Pair plead not guilty to murder

A BENDIGO court has committed two people to stand trial for the murder of Kerang man William Stevenson.

Danielle Kerr, 37, and Darren Lewis, 47, pleaded not guilty in Bendigo Magistrates Court on Thursday after a three-day committal hearing.

Lewis, who appeared via videolink because of medical reasons, pleaded not guilty to one charge of murder

Kerr pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and accessory to murder.

The court heard evidence from four Victoria Police Homicide Squad detectives investigating the murder of Mr Stevenson, whose remains were found in the boot of a burnt-out car in Wellsford Forest on January 2.

Detective Leading Senior Constable Aaron Roche, Detective Sergeant Allan Birch, Detective Sergeant Steve Trewavas and Detective Senior Constable Anthoula Moutis travelled to Bendigo on January 2 after Homicide's Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles briefed them on Mr Stevenson's status as a suspicious missing person. 

The court head the detectives transported Kerr and Lewis from Kerang Police Station to Bendigo before laying charges.

Magistrate Kay Robertson heard from multiple witnesses during the three-day hearing, most of whom told the court about Mr Stevenson's relationship with Kerr.

The court heard evidence from five witnesses on Wednesday who spoke about Mr Stevenson's fear of Kerr - particularly when sustained scratches and bruises to his face and body last year. 

Mr Stevenson had said the injuries were the result of an altercation with Kerr, with whom he was living at the time. 

A retail worker told the court Mr Stevenson told him in December that Kerr was going to kill him if he left.

Pyramid Hill resident Donna Hudson told the court on Tuesday that Kerr and Lewis took bloodstained clothes to her house to be washed four days after Mr Stevenson failed to turn up to work.

Kerr's former housemate Wayne Doidge said she had a fascination with skulls and kept crates of bones.

Mr Doidge said Kerr was interested in cat skulls in his backyard and had on several occasions mentioned she wanted to add a human skull to her collection.

Three witnesses gave testimony about events on Christmas Day, including Pyramid Hill resident Donna Stewart, who told the court Mr Stevenson was angry with Kerr and Lewis after they failed to pick him up from work.

Ms Stewart believed Mr Stevenson’s anger was also because of Kerr’s involvement with Lewis.

The court heard Kerr had a long history of drug abuse and had depression and bipolar disorder.

Kerr and Lewis will attend a directions hearing in Melbourne Supreme Court on September 5.

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