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Troy murder suspect's wife says she cleaned knife for him

37-year-old woman found dead March 21 in Somerset apartments


TROY, Mich. – The wife of a man who is charged with murder in the death of a Troy mother testified Wednesday that he told her he had killed someone and asked her to clean a knife with bleach.

Tonia Stephens said her husband, Charles Stephens, told her, "(expletive) just got real," when he came home on March 21 and threw a knife on a bed in their home in the Somerset apartment complex on Golfview Street. 

Kalpana Murali-Babu was found dead in a neighboring apartment after police went to check on her after she didn't pick up her 10-year-old and 7-year-old children from school.

Medical Examiner Ljubisa Dragovic said Kalpana Murali-Babu died from several slashes to her neck.

Tonia Stephens said she initially lied to police about what happened because her husband had threatened to kill her before.

"I was scared for myself. Yes, I lied," she said.

Witness Corissa Farmer, an employee at American Jewelry and Loan, said Charles Stephens brought in a gold necklace in to sell on March 21. He got $1,250 cash for it.

The necklace is the same that was identified by the victim’s husband as her mangala sutra, a necklace that a Hindu groom gives to his bride as a symbol of their marriage. The victim’s husband said she never would have taken it off.

Charles Stephens was bound over to stand trial on a felony murder charge.