A man convicted with the child’s mother in the 2010 Rockdale County child abuse death of their infant son recently returned to court to ask for a retrial on the grounds that he should have been tried separately from the child’s mother.
William Grant Stewart and Matea Stewart, both 23 years old, were sentenced in October 2012 to life in prison without parole after a jury trial that accused the parents of physically abusing 5-month-old James Stewart. Head trauma ultimately caused the infant’s death, but the baby also had fractures throughout his body that were in various stages of healing.
William and Matea Stewart formally asked for a retrial in May 2013.
Both were scheduled to come before Rockdale County Superior Court Judge Robert Mumford for a motion hearing Dec. 19. Matea’s hearing was continued, but William had his motion heard.
His Dec. 19 motion followed two previous motion hearings scheduled as a follow-up to his May 2013 request for a new trial. Those two hearings were scheduled, but were either canceled or continued.
Covington-based attorney Beau Worthington, who now represents William Stewart, explained to the News why his client was asking for a new trial.
“The primary reason was that we felt, as a matter of law, Mr. Stewart should have been tried separately from Ms. Stewart,” Worthington said.
According to court documents, the Stewarts’ joint trial “created confusion of facts and law to the jury, presented antagonistic defenses, and evidence implicating Ms. Stewart was considered against Mr. Stewart.”
A motion to sever, a request to have the couple separately tried, was filed on behalf of William Stewart. Former Chief Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation, who went on to hear the case and issue the sentence, had denied the motion.The retrial motion claimed the failure to sever violated the constitutional right to a fair trial.
Judge Mumford’s ruling on the retrial motion is likely to come in mid-January. William Stewart is serving his sentence in Hays State Prison in north Georgia.