A Herrin man was found guilty of the 1999 murder of an SIUC student Tuesday.

By Gus Bode

A Williamson County jury found Steven M. Crutchfield, 33, guilty of first-degree murder after three hours of deliberation. Crutchfield was on trial for the April 1999 murder of Michael Sasso, a 20-year-old SIUC student.

Crutchfield was found guilty of the murder in October 1999, but the conviction was overturned by an appellate court because the judge did not inform the jury that a second-degree murder conviction was an option.

Sasso was murdered at the home of Crutchfield’s ex-wife, Tracie Teffertiller. Teffertiller and Sasso met in a class at SIUC.


Teffertiller testified that Crutchfield broke open the front door to her home while holding a knife and screwdriver just before midnight April 3, 1999. She said in court that she was unable to call police because the phone was dead and Crutchfield grabbed her cellular phone away from her. Police testified that the phone box on the side of Teffertiller’s house had been opened and wires had been pried away.

Teffertiller said Crutchfield and Sasso wrestled, and Sasso repeatedly escaped until Crutchfield pinned Sasso in the living room of Teffertiller’s home and repeatedly stabbed Sasso. Sasso escaped from the home and collapsed at a neighboring house.

Sasso died in the hospital hours later.

Police found Crutchfield’s car backed into a driveway one block south of Teffertiller’s home. Crutchfield was found walking in Marion in the early hours of April 4.

Reporter Greg Cima can be reached at [email protected]