October 20, 2013

Blanchard burglary murder trial delayed

James Bright, Managing Editor,
The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — The trial of a man accused of murder by proxy during a burglary has been delayed until late January.

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.

For updates on this story, see Tuesday's Express-Star and check back with this story at a later time today.

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 charge Martin 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 its current date.

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.

Assistant District Attorney Leah Edwards will now try the case for the prosecution.