Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

March 7, 2013

Former Oprah dresser sentenced in friend's death


CHICAGO (AP) — A man who reportedly once dressed Oprah Winfrey and guests on her talk show has been sentenced to prison for fatally stabbing a friend during a fight in their Chicago home.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports ( ) Herbert Van Stephens on Wednesday was sentenced to 39 years in prison in the March 2012 murder of 25-year-old John Atkinson.

Prosecutors say the 53-year-old Van Stephens and Atkinson were arguing when Van Stephens grabbed a knife and stabbed Atkinson more than 50 times. Police say a third roommate called authorities, who found Atkinson on the floor and Van Stephens on the telephone talking to relatives.

Van Stephens was hospitalized in critical condition. He was found guilty in January of first-degree murder.

Police initially described Van Stephens and Atkinson as "mutual combatants."


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