Murder of Syble Stokes by Earnie Stokes re-examined on Fatal Vows: Lethal Love Triangle

Mugshot of Earnie Stokes
Earnie Stokes agreed to serve a 20-year sentence for killing his wife. Pic credit: Alabama Dept. of Corrections

Fatal Vows: Lethal Love Triangle is taking a second look at the murder of Syble Stokes, who was shot dead by her preacher husband, Earnie Stokes, in the bedroom of their home in Centreville, Alabama.

On September 20, 2005, Earnie dialed 911, claiming he’d just been attacked during a home invasion. He told the operator that intruders had thrown gasoline in his face and hit him with a brick.

When the police arrived, they found the remains of 53-year-old Syble lying on the couple’s bed. She had been shot in the head.

The cops soon began to poke holes in Earnie’s story. They learned of an unhappy marriage, where Earnie had been unfaithful, even stooping to having an affair with a member of his congregation.

Earnie and Syble had allegedly not been intimate with each other in many years.

Things really started unraveling for the killer when investigators discovered he had purchased ammunition on the day of the murder. The cops concluded that Earnie had shot his wife of 35 years in cold blood.

Earnie Stokes pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Syble Stokes killing

Three years after the murder, Earnie finally agreed to cut a deal with the prosecution. The murderer pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 20-year prison sentence.

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Earnie was refused parole in 2013 and 2018. Members of the Stokes family argued passionately on each occasion to keep the killer in jail.

At the 2018 hearing, the couple’s son, Daniel Stokes, said, “This has been so hard. This has ripped my family apart. I’ve been lied to.” Daniel also said he was scared of what his father might be capable of doing.

He has also spoken about growing up in a Christian and happy home where he said there was no fighting. Daniel claimed the murder was a shock that came out of the blue.

Syble Stokes family did not want Earnie Stokes to receive parole

Daniel’s wife, Jennifer Stokes, said her father-in-law had agreed to serve 20 years, so he should be made to do the whole sentence. She said, “He was only given a 20-year sentence. We were given a life sentence,” but added, “God is the one in control of this, not us.”

Earnie Stokes was up for parole again in 2023, and he no longer appears in the records for the Alabama Department of Corrections, so he was likely released.

Fatal Vows: Lethal Love Triangle airs Sunday at 10:30/9:30c on Investigation Discovery.

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