ANDERSON — After four hours of deliberation, a jury has found James Henry Stewart Jr. guilty of murder.
Stewart, 32, of Anderson was convicted of shooting and killing Montez D. McCloud, 24, on May 9, 2017.
Jurors began deliberations just before 5 p.m., after closing arguments on Wednesday.
Defense attorney Tracy Carrillo asked jurors to “put yourself in James’ shoes,” during closing arguments.
Using white school poster boards, Carrillo showed jurors a list of the things Stewart knew at the time of the shooting and how the events of that evening occurred from his prospective.
Carrillo said McCloud was known as “Killer Tez,” to carry guns, be aggressive, was a drug user and dealer, had marijuana in his blood at the time of the shooting, “looked possessed and angry,” broke into his home and attacked his girlfriend and a woman McCloud was dating in his front yard.
She ridiculed the detective work of Larry Crenshaw, saying the Anderson police officer waited more than a year to retrieve 911 calls, and raised questions about where he found evidence. Carrillo also pointed out that despite being the lead detective in the case, Crenshaw was absent for most of the trial.
“My pastor says small groups can make very powerful impacts,” Carrillo told jurors asking them to do that by finding her client innocent.
She insisted the state had not proven its case “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Deputy prosecutor Daniel J. Kopp said there was no doubt Stewart killed McCloud and reminded jurors of a video they watched depicting the murder. He said it did not matter if McCloud was a drug dealer or user – he did not deserve to die.
He said no one testified that McCloud’s nickname was Killer Tez, that he was known to carry guns or that he had a weapon the night he was killed.
Kopp said McCloud’s murder was premeditated because several people testified that they heard Stewart tell McCloud if he was still on his property when he returned he “had something” for the victim.
He urged jurors to return with a guilty verdict if they wanted to “sleep well tonight.”