Stewart standing trial for sex allegations

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The trial of a Lewisburg man, accused of several sex offenses, started Monday when Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler was unsure whether a verdict could be reported before today.

Dallas Jay Stewart, 28, formerly of Sumerset Circle, was arrested in August 2009, and has remained jailed since then, in lieu of $500,000 bond.

Stewart's 26-count indictment listed one count of exhibition of materials to a minor; 11 counts of rape of a child; and 14 counts of aggravated sexual battery. Stewart is alleged to have shown the "materials" to one girl, but to have committed the rapes and the sexual battery with her and another girl, both under 13 years of age, on two Wednesdays in July 2009.

During opening arguments, Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard reminded the jury of eight women and five men (one is an alternate), that each count stands on its own and that he intends to prove every one.

Defense attorney John S. Colley III of Columbia disagreed, telling the jury, "You'll have a reasonable doubt of each and every count."

Monday afternoon, the court heard testimony from Lewisburg Police Officer Kevin Clark, who was the first member of law enforcement to hear about Stewart's alleged actions from the then-11-year-old victim and her mother. Clark contacted the on-call detective, Scott Braden, who was the next witness.

Braden described interviewing one victim, while Detective James Johnson interviewed the other. Both detectives then visited Stewart's residence, interviewed him, took photographs, and invited him to the Lewisburg Police Department the next day for further questioning.

Agent Mike Smith of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was the last witness of the afternoon. Smith was called to police headquarters to administer a lie detector test to Stewart. Johnson testified that it was Stewart's - and his mother's - idea to take the test, and it was only after Smith announced the results of the test that Stewart went from denying anything had happened to admitting sexual offences in graphic detail.

The jury listened to a tape recording of Stewart's statement made that afternoon, and also looked at copies of his written statements.