Jurors in the trial of a Conyers couple accused of abusing and causing the 2010 death of their five-month-old son heard testimony from law enforcement officials and emergency responders today as prosecutors began painting a picture of the events surrounding the tragedy.
Matea and Grant Stewart, who were both 21 when their son died, are being tried together and both are charged with malice murder, three counts of felony murder, two counts of cruelty to children in the first degree, aggravated battery and two counts of contributing to the deprivation of a minor.
Today’s testimony focused on the events of the July 28, 2010 incident, which began with Grant Stewart’s 911 call stating five-month-old James Stewart was in distress. According to statements he gave that day, Grant Stewart said he, his wife Matea and baby James were all in the family’s living room at 362 Morris Drive when the infant became fussy, which he told deputies was common. The couple put the baby in his crib in a back bedroom to “calm down” and when they checked on him – which he says in different statements was 20,30 or 40 minutes later – the baby had a towel wrapped around his face and was not breathing.
Jurors heard a recording from when deputies first arrived at the home, where they found Grant Stewart at the entrance to the bedroom where the baby was lying in his crib. Grant Stewart can be heard asking the deputy if there is anything he can do to help while Matea Stewart remained in the living room and never spoke to the responding officer, according to today’s testimony. The baby was not breathing and had no pulse at that time and his lips were turning blue. Testimony today revealed that after the infant was transported to Rockdale Medical Center, Grant Stewart told authorities that a blanket usually used to prop the baby bottle up was actually covering the infant’s face when he discovered the baby not breathing.
According to a Rockdale Medical Center emergency room physician who treated James when he arrived, after the baby was intubated a pulse was detected and the heart rate improved. As standard procedure a chest x-ray was ordered to verify placement of the intubation tube and it was at that time rib fractures in various stages of healing were noticed on the baby. The infant died the next day at Children’s Healthcare of Altanta at Egleston, where the parents were confronted with medical professionals’ suspicions of child abuse.
The trial began with opening arguments Wednesday and is expected to continue through next week. Testimony from prosecution witnesses consumed the entire day today and will continue at 9 a.m. Friday in Rockdale County Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation's courtroom.
Matea Stewart, who is a Rockdale County High School graduate, was pregnant when she and Grant Stewart married and he adopted the baby they named James. After the baby died at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston the day after the 911 call an autopsy revealed the death was caused by trauma to the head, namely a 14-centimeter fracture, and that the infant had countless fractures in various stages of healing at the time of his death.