50 years of prison ordered

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Lewisburg man will spend the next 50 years in prison, according to a sentence handed down in Circuit Court Wednesday.

Dallas Jay Stewart, 28, was convicted by a jury in March.

"We started with 26 counts," said Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard. "Two counts were dropped, so we had 24 counts, and he was convicted as indicted on all of them."

One count was for exhibiting pornographic materials to a minor, but the rest were divided between rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery. Stewart's victims were nine and 11 years old at the time of the offenses, in the summer of 2009.

"He was a friend and co-worker of their mothers," Barnard said. "He bought them gifts. These children were groomed."

Barnard listed the different sex acts Stewart performed with the victims and concluded, "He did everything to these children."

In Stewart's defense, lawyer John S. Colley III of Columbia, called Stewart's grandmother, sister, and a friend, to testify, and all three said they were totally shocked and surprised when he was arrested.

It would be "totally out of character" for him to have committed these offenses, said the grandmother, while his sister said it was "100 percent inconsistent" with what she knew of her brother.

"I still don't think he did it," exclaimed the neighbor.

Barnard asked for a sentence of 100 years, but Colley said, "That's not what's called for in this case," adding that 25 years would be more appropriate.

"These were horrendous crimes," Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler said. "The extent of the sexual abuse of these two young girls was horrendous."

The judge said he gave great weight to the fact that two minors were involved.

"The sentence must be just in relation to the seriousness of the offence," Crigler said. "It's on a par with first degree murder."

Stewart was sentenced to 50 years, to be served at 100 percent, in accordance with state law that does not allow serious sex offenders to have their time incarcerated reduced. He has already been incarcerated almost two years.

Stewart appeared in court in a Giles County Jail shirt, and Barnard explained he has been confined there for some time, due to problems with some prisoners at the jail here.