Blind World Magazine

Wife torturer sentenced to 25-40 years in prison.

February 14, 2006., Michigan.

Ex-paramedic Stephen H. Cline repeatedly tortured his blind diabetic wife on videotape for his own sexual pleasure, and prosecutors say his next step was to kill her.

For at least 25 years, though, society won't have to worry if they're right.

Huron County Circuit Judge M. Richard Knoblock sentenced Cline to 25 to 40 years in prison on Monday, two months after a jury convicted Cline of kidnapping, agreeing with prosecutors' claim that Cline ''secretly confined'' his wife during several years of torture.

The judge disagreed with a probation agent's recommendation for a minimum of 18 years behind bars for Cline, 43, who walked into court with a middle finger against his forehead in an obscene gesture for reporters pointing cameras at him.

''At his age of 43, I think he's gotta be kept away from society for a long time. ... I don't think 18 years is enough time for a 43-year-old man,'' Knoblock said.

Jurors also convicted Cline of 17 counts of first-degree abuse of a vulnerable adult - his then-wife, Linda Danks-Cline, who now is divorced from Stephen Cline.

Prosecutors accuse Cline of changing his wife's diet and withholding medication or insulin to drop her blood-sugar levels so low she would become unconscious. Cline's lawyer, Bad Axe attorney Douglas J. Lee, said there's no proof of that.

Cline, according to prosecutors, would then dress his wife in provocative clothing, tie her hands and asphyxiate her by securing a plastic bag over her head, reviving her as she neared death.

Huron County Prosecutor Mark J. Gaertner said Michael C. Ward, a former jail cellmate of Cline's, told police that Cline told him he planned to kill Linda Danks-Cline during a torture session.

''Ward's testimony was that Stephen Cline told him ... if he hadn't been caught by police, the next time he did this, he would have taken it to death, because he said, 'I wanted to have sex with a woman who was dying,''' Gaertner said.

Cline didn't speak prior to his sentencing, and didn't answer media questions as police led him back to jail.

Linda Danks-Cline, 46, entered court with her leader dog, Thunder, and sat next to longtime friend Rhonda Quinn of Caseville, who attended Laker High School with Danks-Cline when the two women were teenagers.

Danks-Cline declined to comment after the sentencing, but her mother, 74-year-old Roberta Danks of Pigeon, called her daughter ''a very strong person'' who hopes to find a job and put her computer skills to use.

Roberta Danks didn't have the same praise for her former son-in-law, Stephen Cline.

''I've never met anybody like that in my life,'' Danks said. ''This is something you'd probably read about in a magazine, or see on Court TV, or on (the Court TV program) 'Forensic Files,''' Danks said.

''(Stephen Cline) was very good to Linda when he first met her. He was very kind and paid lots of attention to her, and she had just lost her eyesight due to diabetes, so she was very vulnerable.''

Huron County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Stephen J. Allen, however, said Cline ''has shown zero remorse for his conduct.''

Allen said Cline lied about where he was from and listed fake accomplishments, telling Linda Danks-Cline's relatives ''he was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Navy and a member of the Navy Seals.''

Allen said he has pinned down one fact: Cline was a 1980 graduate of Southmont Junior/Senior High School in New Market, Ind.

And Gaertner said Cline, if nothing else, is cocky.

''He made his own preferred viewing tape of all these (torture) incidents, and it's an hour and 40 minutes long,'' Gaertner said. ''We showed it to the jury at the trial, and Cline viewed it at the same time.

''He had an air of enjoyment about himself as he sat there and watched.''

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