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October 25, 2013

Discussion ensues for both sides in Stewart case

CHICKASHA —

Negotiations over altering the charge filed against Dustin Stewart may have contributed to the delay of his trial. 

“The case was rescheduled for January due to a crowded October jury docket and to allow the attorneys an opportunity to more fully discuss the status of the case.  It will be resolved in January one way or another.”" said Grady County District Attorney Jason Hicks. 

Dustin Stewart was scheduled to be tried for murder in the first degree this morning after he and accomplice Justin Martin, allegedly broke into then 18-year-old Sarah McKinley's Blanchard home on Dec. 31, 2011. It has been moved to fall into a later jury selection period and is now not expected to begin until after the first of the year.Martin was reportedly holding a knife during the incident nearly two years ago, which resulted in McKinley shooting and killing Martin.

Stewart allegedly ran after hearing the shot, but admitted to Blanchard police officers that he was with Martin when the crime was committed.

Former Grady County Assistant District Attorney James Walters said under Oklahoma law 707.7b, Stewart can be charged with murder in the first degree due to Martin's death.

"Oklahoma law provides that if you are committing certain crimes, burglary in the first degree being among them, that any coconspirator can be charged with murder one, if anyone is killed during the perpetration of that crime," Walters said.  

Although Walters could have charged Stewart with burglary, he said he found no need to file that motion, given it is a lesser charge. In order to make the murder one charge stick the DA will have to prove that the burglary offense did take place.

Stewart's defense applied for summary dismissal in August, which moved the trail to the October 21 date that was inevitably delayed.

Blanchard officer Dan Huff testified for almost three hours in May of 2012 during a preliminary hearing that ended when Judge Timothy A. Brauer bound Stewart over for trial.

Hicks is now prosecuting this case for the state.

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