6News is covering the trial of James Stewart in the slayings of seven people in an Indianapolis home in 2006.
Warning: Some of the details described below are graphic.12/11 10:05 a.m. update:
Closing arguments have begun. Deputy Prosecutor Jana Skelton said the defendant James Stewart on June 1st 2006 entered the house at 560 North Hamilton do a robbery. But the plan changed.He made a choice to start shooting, shooting, shooting, and killed all the people in that house.Magno Albarran interrupted this robbery. He was a threat because he had a gun.They had to incapacitate him so they could get out of that house.Each pull of the trigger represents a deliberate choice to kill.Members of the family wept during Skeltons closing arguments.The plan changed. Flora had a bloody $100 dollar bill in her hand. Magno had $300 dollars on his person.Stewart and Turner just wanted to get out of there. They just wanted to get away with it.Both sides have been given 90 minutes for closing arguments.
12/10 10:45 a.m. update:
>6News' Jennifer Carmack tweets updates to the Stewart trial Thursday.12/10 9:59 a.m. update:
The prosecution is now calling Mike Putzek. Hes been employed with the Marion County Crime Lab since 2007. Hes a supervisor with the labs firearm section and is also a forensic scientist. He formerly worked for 16 years with the Illinois State Police doing similar work.Putzek is telling the jury what a gun is and how it works.
12/10 9:40 a.m. update:
At 9:35, the prosecution is now doing what is called the publishing of the evidence.The jury can now look and touch the evidence that was collected at the crime scene, including bulletsThe first group of jurors is opening evidence stored in envelopes and looking through it one at a time.Jurors can choose to look at all or some of the evidence on a table that has been in front of themAt 9:39, the first group is done and the second group looks at the evidence used against James Stewart in this trial.The judge reminds the jury that this same evidence will be sent to the jury room when its time for deliberations, which could start late next week.The second group completes its review by 9:40 a.m.
12/10 9:33 a.m. update:
At 9:33, the jury enters the courtroom. Day 6 of the trial now underwayThe trial was briefly delayed because the judge had some initial hearings he had to handle first, and then he had to address the issue of the prosecution witness who refused to testify.
12/10 9:21 a.m. update:
Shameka Smith is an inmate who does not to want to testify. She did testify in the Desmond Turner case.When judge Robert Altice asked her if she planned on testifying she said, I still dont want to.She will get an additional 90 days jail time for contempt of court for failure to testify in the Stewart case.It is unclear why Smith is in jail, but she was expected to get out in 2011.Judge Altice says she will have to serve all 90 days. The judge gave Smith until this afternoon to change her mind and also reminded her that her testimony in the Desmond Turner could be read to the jury.
12/10 9:15 a.m. update:
After 5 days, the prosecution is expected to rest its case this morning. The prosecution began its case against James Stewart last Wednesday, describing the robbery went terribly wrong.Stewart is accused of 25 criminal charges connected to the death of a family of seven in June 2006.The prosecution has no DNA, fingerprints or weapons tying to Stewart to the crime. But with testimony from acquaintances, former girlfriends and friends, the prosecution was able to introduce alleged confessions in which Stewart may have told people he was involved in the fatal shootings.The triggerman, Desmond Turner, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.The prosecution described the events of June 1, 2006 in opening statements as the actions of two men, two guns and two choices to rob and kill.This morning, family members for both sides are in court.At 9:16, James Stewart, in shackles wearing a beige suit with a black shirt, enters the courtroom, looks over to this family and sits with defense attorney Richard Bucheri.The defense attorney, Richard Bucheri, says he has not decided yet whether his client will testify.
12/9 2:55 p.m. update:
At 2:24, Richard Bucheri continues his cross-examination. Shannon Winchester gave two depositions in this case.Winchester says she only told detectives about Stewarts confession.Winchester denies setting up Stewarts arrest by telling him that one of his kids wanted to see him at 9th and Oakland, where they apparently lived.Desmond went upstairs. Then he went upstairs. He came downstairs and a Mexican had a gun to Desmonds head and he (Stewart) started shooting, shooting, shooting, referring to Stewart.I told him not to kill the kids, Stewart told Turner according to Winchesters testimony.Under redirect from the prosecution, Winchester was sobbing. She says she is telling the truth and is not making up a story.The jury had a few questions for Winchester which the judge allowed.
12/9 2:20 p.m. update:
At 2:08pm, Winchester continues her testimony. Winchester says she still loves Stewart and didnt want him to get in trouble. The latter is the reason she says she did not call police after his alleged confession to her.Winchester didnt want to be seen riding with police in her neighborhood on the day she was asked to provide a statement and acknowledges that testifying today is also difficult.After being interviewed by police, she stayed with a relative because she was afraid to stay to her in home.Winchester says she had not told anyone about what Stewart had told her. She wrote him a letter and called James after he was arrested.In letters, Stewart talked about getting married with Winchester.I wanted what was best for him. I still love him, said Winchester. She starts sobbing on the stand and pauses to get a tissue.Winchester is on probation for welfare fraud, and as part of her plea, was required to testify.When asked if that was not part of her plea would still testify she said, Yes, because it is the right thing to do.Prosecution ends questioning at 2:20 p.m.The defense now starts its cross examination.Richard Bucheri says Winchester was facing a possible 8-year prison term for welfare fraud and was given a deal to testify against Stewart.Winchester says Stewarts involvement with other women did not bother her.
12/9 2:10 p.m. update:
At 1:39, Shannon Winchester continues her testimony under the questioning of Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Haley.Winchester says she had a cousin who dated James in the past.Stewart lived in Winchesters home in late 2004.He didnt spend every night. He was there a lot.They met in a club.Winchester says she was aware he was seeing someone else and tolerated it. When asked if she loved Stewart she said, Yes.Winchester was also aware that he was married to someone else.Winchester had been fighting and arguing with Stewart one to two months before the murders and they broke off their relationship, Winchester says.We fought about a lot of stuff.Even after the break-up, Winchester says Fonz would call her.She had met James Stewarts uncle, who is also named James Stewart. The uncle may testify that his nephew was with him the night of the slayings watching the NBA Finals.On June 1, 2006, she received calls from James at around 11p.m., Winchester saidThe first time he called, he told me come get me.Throughout the night of June 1st, he called five to six times, Winchester said. The next time he called he said, Come get me. Do you need any gas or any money?Winchester says she declined to go get him.He seemed anxious and hyper, while he was on the phone, stated Winchester. She could overhear that he was with Joyce Snorton, whose deposition was read to jurors yesterday because she refuses to take the stand.The following morning, Winchester says Stewart came to her home.He paced the floor. 'I messed up. I messed up,' Winchester says Stewart told her. Have you seen the news? Stewart asked Winchester, according to her testimony. You havent seen the seven Mexicans being killed.Winchester testifies, He said they went there to get money. He said he went in .looking for money and supposed to be drugs.""He said there was a pretty Mexican girl snatched her in. After that, I told him not to kill the kids.Stewart's family members leave in tears.Winchester says they were looking for $40,000 in the house.He said they got $1500 and didnt get any drugs, testified Winchester.He planned on leaving town for a few days.
12/9 1:40 p.m. update:
The jury returns to the courtroom at 1:35. Shannon Winchester is called to the stand by the prosecution. She is a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home in Indianapolis.Winchester is a former girlfiend of James Alfonso Stewart. She knows him by his nickname Fonz.Winchester points to Stewart in the courtroom and identifies him as the man being accused of being an accomplice the the Hamilton Avenue slayings.
12/9 9 a.m. update: 6News' Jennifer Carmack tweeted updates to the Stewart trial Wednesday morning.12/8 10:40 a.m. update:
The prosecution is now reading her part of the deposition. Joyce Snorton says that James Stewart told her that he told Desmond Turner man why are you going to kill those kids?Snorton says on the night of the slayings they were drinking gin and that she treated him to drugs since he was driving.The deposition concludes at 10:41 a.m. The jury will soon leave the courtroom to tour the neighborhood.
12/8 10:30 a.m. update:
At 10:19, the jury continues to hear reading of the deposition. Snorton during the deposition says that James Stewart tells her, "he was with somebody that had done something.She claimed Stewart went on to say he was at the wrong place at the wrong time.When asked if Stewart involved in the murders during the deposition Snorton says YeahWhen asked about the family on Hamilton Avenue, Snorton said that James told her he was like they got shot.Victims relative Maria Flores leaves the courtroom in tears. Flores is the surviving daughter of Emma Valdez, one of the seven victims killed on June 1, 2006
12/8 10:15 a.m. update:
The reading of the deposition of prosecution witness Joyce Snorton continues at 9:53. Snorton at one point worked at a nursing home in the cafeteria.Snorton claims she and Stewart visited enough to party and barbecue.On the night of the slayings, Stewart was at her home drinking and went out for a drive around the neighborhood for about 20 minutes, Snorton said.Snorton said she did not see Stewart with a gun on that day.She claims she ran into Stewart between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. at the Community Spirits Liquor store on the night of the slayings.I was coming out (liquor store) and he was out there.We drove around to find some drugs. Snorton claims she was with Stewart in the vehicle and she said she bought marijuana.He didnt act weird, she responded when asked about James demeanor by the defense attorney during the deposition.Snorton in her deposition said she and Stewart were drinking and getting high the night of the slayings and got home around 4:45 a.m. and then went off to work at 6 a.m.
12/8 9:50 a.m. update:
The court is called to order at 9:42 a.m. The jury will hear the reading of the deposition of Joyce Snorton. The original deposition was 87 pages. The prosecution has turned in a redacted version to the court.Detective Sgt. Leslie VanBuskirk will read the answers the missing witness Joyce Snorton gave during her deposition.Defense attorney Richard Bucheri will read his questions and Deputy Prosecutor Jana Skelton will read her questions.The following is the testimony of Joyce Snorton as being read in court:Snorton is 40 years old. Her middle name was Marie and she has two children. Snorton claimed she was homeless at the time of the deposition on May 7, 2009.Snorton met Stewart in the neighborhood. Snorton knew Desmond Turner from the streets back in '95 or '96. Turner was convicted of the mass slayings of Hamilton Avenue in October and sentenced to life in prison without parole on Nov. 20.Snorton is the cousin of Shannon Winchester, who is expected to testify for the prosecution.Snorton claims she was on drugs on June 1, 2006, and claims she saw Stewart late in the evening.
12/8 9:35 a.m. update:
Authorities were unable to find Joyce Snorton to testify. Snorton has made herself unavailable to authorities since May, when she gave a deposition to both sides.Judge Robert Altice ruled that he will allow Snortons 87-page deposition to be read to the jury.Snortons deposition is expected to favor the prosecution, since she was to say that James Stewart admitted to her that he was involved in the Hamilton Avenue slayings.
12/7 4 p.m. update:
Michelle Clifton testifies that the bullets found in her home did not belong to her.At 3:53pm, deputy prosecutor Jennifer Haley continues questioning Ms. Clifton, a former girlfriend of James Turner.In in her home, police found Desmond Turners clothing soaking in the a bathtub.Deputy Prosecutor Haley holds up a pair of blue jeans and a T-shirt in the courtroom. Clifton testifies that they belong to Turner.The prosecution team contends that the clothing left soaking in the bathtub was worn by Turner on the night of the murders.Clifton said she knows James Stewart, and points to him in the courtroom. His nickname is Fonz. She said she knows him from the neighborhood.At 4 p.m., Richard Bucheri, the defense attorney, begins cross examination. Clifton cant identify Stewart as an accomplice under cross.
12/7 3:50 p.m. update:
James Smith, 49, took the stand at 2:52 p.m. Mr. Smith is the nephew of Frank Dodson, who testified earlier this afternoon.Smith said he came to the neighborhood to bring a key to shut off the water. Smith said he called 911, but did not see anything related to the suspects or shootings.The prosecution calls Michelle Clifton at 3:28 p.m. Ms. Clifton has six children and lived at 1115 Rural in June 2006.She said she knew Desmond Turner and let him borrow her pickup truck on June 1, 2006. Desmond Turner spent some nights at Cliftons home.When she got home on the night on June 1, 2006, she said her truck nor Turner were at her home.The next day, June 2, a girlfriend came over to tell Clifton that Turner was on TV wanted for murder. Turner was in the home. Clifton said she was afraid for herself and her six children.Clifton said she and her girlfriend got into their car and Turner jumped in and told the women to take off.She said Turner told the women to start driving toward Kentucky.The women actually switched vehicles in Plainfield, with the car belonging to one of the womens relatives.They stopped at a hotel in Kentucky. Clifton said she called her son, who told her that their home had been searched by police.Desmond wanted them to drive out west. Clifton said she instead drove towards Indianapolis while Turner fell asleep in the back seat.
12/7 2:55 p.m. update:
At 2:41 p.m., Katherine Dodson takes the stand. She is 24 and is the mother of two children.Katherine said she saw two men wearing something red across their face near the home.She said she heard gunshots from the home: A bunch of shots. She said she thinks she heard 15 gunshots, but couldnt recall an exact number.She said she saw one person dart down the alley towards Michigan Street. Katherine could not describe the person feeling from 560 N. Hamilton Ave.Under cross examination, she said she had not see James Stewart and that she could not identify the person running down the alley. Ms. Dodson is dismissed at 2:52 p.m.
12/7 2:40 p.m. update:
Dodson testifies that he had never seen James Stewart in the neighborhood. Under cross examination, he also says he had never seen Stewart.He left the stand at 2:24 p.mThe next prosecution witness is Frankie Dodson, who is the daughter of Frank. Frankie Dodson takes stand at 2:25 p.m.Frankies voice is cracking with emotion as she recounts hearing Flora Albarran screaming. She says she ran to call 911 and heard the gunshots.Frankies mother, Faye, moved the vehicle Flora drove to allow emergency vehicles to have room to work. She recalls the large number of police that responded.Frankie Dodson said she does not know Desmond Turner or James Stewart. The jury has no question for Ms. Dodson.Frankie leaves the witness stand at 2:40 p.m.
12/7 2 p.m. update:
The prosecutions next witness is 53-year-old Frank Dodson, who is the father of 11 children. Mr. Dodson lives across the street from the murder scene. He lives at 557 Hamilton Ave.Mr. Dodson was friends with Alberto Covarrubias, who he says owned nine rental properties. Mr. Dodson did heating and cooling for Covarrubias rental properties.Dodson said he saw Flora Albarran, 22, walk up to the porch to pick up her 5-year-old son. He said he saw a black arm pull Flora into the house and heard her scream.He said he saw Magno Albarran walk into the home and then he said he heard gunshots. He said he recalls hearing one gunshot and then quick, rapid gunfire.
12/7 12:48 p.m. update:
The courtroom is silent as the jury watches the crime scene video. It was done by the Marion County crime lab on the night of the killings to document the evidence, specifically how and where the bodies of seven people were found.If there is audio with the video, its not being played in court.The video is out of reach to where we are sitting in the courtroom.There is little in facial reaction from the jury, which may be stunned from the autopsy pictures it spent nearly two hours hearing about .
12/7 12:39 p.m. update:
The jury begins to watch the crime scene video.
12/7 12:23 p.m. update:
Dr. Jennifer Swartz is now being cross-examined by defense attorney Richard Bucheri. Under his questioning, Swartz restates that one of the gunshot injuries on Emma Valdez may been caused by either a rifle or handgun.She is dismissed at 12:23 p.m.The prosecution contends that James Stewart used a handgun during the robbery at 560 N. Hamilton Avenue.The prosecution just played for the jury a surveillance tape from Chase Bank showing that Emma Valdez at a nearby bank nearly eight hours before the killings. The jury will see video of the crime scene in minutes.
12/7 11:58 a.m. update:
Dr. Jennifer Swartz continues her testimony. She conducted the autopsy on David Covarrubias on June 3, 2006.While Dr. Swartz is testifying, the jury is taking a lot of notes and is visually moved and is showing facial discontent to the photographs.The photographs show the exit wounds from the gunshots fired from a high-velocity weapon.David was found with the other two boys -- his brother, 11-year-old Alberto Covarrubias and their nephew 5-year-old Luis Albarran.During her testimony, Swartz is being questioned by Deputy Prosecutor Jana Skelton. Swartz explains how the bullets criss-crossed and bounced inside the young boys body. They also found body pieces on the body of David, presumably from his brother Alberto, who was lying next to him.Swartz says official cause of death for David was multiple gunshot wounds. The victims' family has not returned to the courtroom.James Stewart has three friends/family/supporters in the court.
12/7 11:48 a.m. update:
Swartz also did the autopsy of 8-year-old David Covarrubias. The last remaining relative of the victims leaves the courtroom with a scarf over her face and in tears.She walks out with the courtroom with a court-appointed translator. David was shot 8 times.One female juror whispers, Oh, my God.
12/7 11:40 a.m. update:
Dr. Jennifer Swartz says that when 11-year-old Alberto Covarrubias was shot in the head, his skull exploded.The autopsy also found other injuries to his body which were caused by flying body parts from the boy shot next to him.Swartz says the cause of death for Alberto Junior was gunshot wounds to the head and back.
12/7 11:35 a.m. update:
The judge warns the jury about the upcoming pictures of 11-year-old Alberto Covarrubias. He was shot 3 times.The victims family abruptly leaves the courtroom, with no desire to hear about the gruesome pictures of the childs autopsy.One female juror turns her head in disgust and tears up. The jury is troubled by pictures of the child.Swartz says Alberto was shot while lying face down in a bed with a high-velocity weapon.
12/7 11:25 a.m. update:
Dr. Jennifer Swartz says that Flora Albarrans official cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds by a high velocity weapon.Court taking a brief recess for the jury to use the restroom
12/7 11:05 a.m. update:
Swartz ruled that Emma Valdezs official cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds. Swartz also conducted the autopsy on Emmas daughter, Flora Albarran.Flora came to 560 North Hamilton June 1, 2006 to pick-up her son, 5-year-old Luis, from his grandmothers home. Luis was the youngest victim.Swartz says Flora was shot four times. She conducted her autopsy on June 3, 2006.Swartz says that Flora was shot at least once at close range -- 6 to 12 inches -- while she was standing.Based on previous testimony and eyewitness accounts, Flora drove up to the home to pickup her son.Once Flora knocked on the door, she was apparently dragged into the home and then heard screaming my baby, not my baby before gunshots went off.Dr. Swartz continues testimony at 11:02 amSwartz currently works for the Bergen County Medical Examiners Office in Paramus, New Jersey. Her title there is Assistant Medical Examiner and her job duties include investigating suspicious or unnatural deaths. At the time of the mass slayings, she worked in Indianapolis from December 2005 through December 2006. Over her 10-year career, Swartz says she has conducted about 2,000 autopsies.
12/7 10:48 a.m. update:
At 10:38, Dr. Jennifer Swartz continues her testimony. Swartz testifies that Emma Valdez was shot even after she fell to the ground, based on the injuries to her body.The doctor cant confirm whether one of the fatal gunshots was caused by a handgun or a high-velocity weapon.The autopsy found blunt force trauma to Valdezs head. The doctor says it's possible Valdez could have been struck with the butt of the gun as well.
12/7 10:37 a.m. update:
Dr. Swartz conducted autopsies on several of the victims from the Hamilton Avenue slayings, including matriarch Emma Valdez.As the pictures are shown on a monitor to the jury, the victims' family moves seats to avoid seeing the gruesome photographs.Swartz says Valdezs injuries were caused by a high-velocity weapon, like an assault rifle.The doctor says Emma was shot while either standing or kneeling because she was found face down in the home.
12/7 10:15 a.m. update:
The jury is seated at 10:10. The first prosecution witness for the day will be Dr. Jennifer Swartz.Swartz is a forensic pathologist who was on call on the night of the Hamilton Avenue killings. She was contacted by the Marion County Coroners Office on that day.
12/7 10:10 a.m. update:
Prosecutors may need to call on the fugitive taskforce to find a key witness that was scheduled to testify in the morning.Joyce Snorton, also known as Big Hank, was suppose to say that James Stewart told her he was involved in the mass slayings, which occurred in June 2006.The prosecution team has been unable to find Snorton. The judge told the prosecution to use the taskforce to find the witness.The defense told the judge that if the prosecution cant bring Snorton to court that her written statement should be inadmissible because Stewart has a right to face his accuser.The judge will rule on the matter in the morning.
12/7 10 a.m. update:
Day four of the James Stewart Trial is temporarily delayed with jurors unable to make it downtown due to weather conditions.
12/4 1:30 p.m. update:
Day three of the trial continues with the jury entering the courtroom at 1:08. The divorced spouse of murder victim Magno Albarran took the stand.Kim Fischer broke out into tears the moment she took the stand.She and Albarran divorced in 2005 and remained friendly because they share a biological daughter.Kim testified that on the day of the slayings, Magno had spent time with his daughter, Jasmine. The child wanted to spend the night with her dad, but because of work schedules, that plan was dropped. Jasmine likely would have been the eighth victim had she spent the night.Fischer said she heard about something happening on Hamilton Avenue, so she called Albarran and got no answer. She then called police and was given the news.Fischer left the stand in tears. Since she was released from both the defense and prosecution subpoena, she was offered the opportunity to remain in the courtroom. She declined. The jury had no questions for Kim.At 1:30, forensic pathologist Dr. Steven Radentz took the stand to talk about the autopsies.The judge warned the jury they would be looking at graphic picture.Radentz is expected to be on the stand for an hour, after which day 3 of this trial is expected to come to an end.
12/4 12:30 p.m. update:
The judge warns the jury that the pictures they are about to see are graphic. Mario is in tears as hes asked to identify pictures of his relatives. I cant see whether hes seeing portraits or crime scene pictures.State exhibit #171 was a picture of Alberto (stepdad), #172, Flora Albarran, #173, Alberto Jr., #174 Luis, #175 DavidAt 12:09, Mario Albarran continues to talk about pictures being shown on a large TV which is also facing the jury.Albarran is being shown pictures of the home in disarray.He testifies that his brother, Magno, usually carried a .357 handgun and also owned a Tec-9, Colt 45, and .380 handgun.
12/4 12:03 p.m. update:
Mario Albarran is emotionally shaken as he recalls coming to the scene of the murders. He says had to be restrained by police.Mario starts to cry as Deputy Prosecutor Jana Skelton shows crime scene pictures as part of the evidence.Victims relatives in the courtroom also begin to cry.The court staff brings out tissue boxes for them. Mario is given a cup of water.
12/4 11:57 a.m. update:
Mario Albarran continues to testify. Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi is sitting in the back of the courtroom. Its his first time here.He was the lead attorney in the first trial involving Desmond Turner in which he his office won a conviction.
12/4 11:28 a.m. update:
At 11:05, Ricky Gilreath, 20, takes the stand under questioning from Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Haley.Gilreath testifies he saw two people toward the back of the house at 560 N. Hamilton Ave. on the night of the killings. He says he saw two black men go to the porch.One man had a red rag around neck area. That person had a lot of muscle tone, because he had no shirt on. He was a bit taller than the guy wearing clothes, Gilreath said.The guy wearing clothes was Desmond Turner. Turners clothing was found in a friends bathtub in water.Gilreath recalls seeing Magno Albarran and Flora Albarran individually arrive at the house on Hamilton in their own vehicle.I heard Flora screaming ,'No, no.' after a knock on the door.He thought the gunmen were in the home for about 4 to 5 minutes before Magno and Flora entered the house.Gilreath recalls seeing the two men who entered the house leave the home. He recalls seeing the guy with the red rag leave the house with a bag that looked like a pillow case.
12/4 11:05 a.m. update:
At 10:38, cross-examination of Brandon Griffith by defense attorney Richard Bucheri began.Bucheri establishes that Griffith was unable to identify the second man involved in the mass murder. The prosecution contends the second man is James Stewart.Griffith says that Desmond told him that he was going to get my buddy 'Lucky' and choppers. Griffith testifies that choppers is street lingo for an assault rifle.Griffith goes on to say that Turner told him he was going to hit a lick on the Mexicans down the street. Hit a lick" is street talk for commit a robbery.Both sides have ended their questioning of Griffith, and the jury has passed on several questions for the judge to possibly ask.All parties at 10:57 are discussing whether the jurors questions are permissible.Its unclear why the judge allowed the witness to refer to Lucky in his testimony when he ruled that he could not refer to the guy getting out of the truck as Lucky. I will get further clarification in upcoming update.The jurors wanted to know why he didnt call police if he knew something was going to go down? Griffith says he did have a phone.The jurors wanted to know if he knew a guy named Lucky? Did you know James Stewart? Griffith says no to both of those inquiries from jurors.
12/4 10:30 a.m. update:
At 10:24, Griffith remains on the stand. Griffith says he heard several gunshots from the house and heard victim Flora Albarran scream No, not my son.Albarran on that evening was picking up her 5-year-old son, Luis.Luis and his two uncles, ages 8 and 11, were among the people killed inside the home.Griffith testifies that when he was shown pictures of other possible suspects he was unable to identify anyone else. He did identify Desmond Turner.We are in recess for 10 minutes before cross-examination.
12/4 10:23 a.m. update:
At 9:58, Brandon Griffith, a friend of convicted killer Desmond Turner, continues on the stand.This is day three of the James Stewart murder trial. Griffith and the jury are watching surveillance tape video from a Speedway gas station which is up the street from Hamilton Avenue.The video showed Griffith and Turner getting into a pickup truck at the gas station hours before the killings on June 1, 2006.Turner dropped him at the neighborhood and returned later, Griffith says. There was a guy sitting on the passenger side.When Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Haley asked if anyone else was in the truck with Turner, Griffith says, A guy got out of the truck.He describes him as a black man, 5 feet 9 inches tall -- taller than Desmond. He had no shirt on and was bigger than Desmond, Griffith says. He could not see the mans face.Griffith says the man told Desmond to "hurry up. Desmond parked the truck in front of the home of mutual friend.Griffith says Turner left the home and drove off in the truck with the man sitting on the passenger side.Griffith says the time he saw Turner he saw him on the porch of 560 N. Hamilton Ave. holding a rifle. He says the other guy who got into the truck with Turner was holding what appears to be a handgun.
12/4 9:49 a.m. update:
The jury entered the court at 9:33 a.m. The prosecution calls to the stand Brandon Griffith.The 20-year-old also testified in Desmond Turner's trial.In that trial, Griffith was the first witness to identify Turner as being at the murder scene holding an assault rifle on the porch of the home at 560 N. Hamilton Ave.In Friday's testimony, Griffith acknowledged that he knew members of the Covarrubias and Valdez family, including the three children.Griffith says he met Desmond Turner within 1 to 2 months before the killings.Turner was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Nov. 20.In that trial, Turner agreed to a trial by judge in exchange for the Marion County Prosecutors Office dropping the death penalty.
12/4 9:23 a.m. update:
James Stewart re-enters the court at 9:08 a.m. Stewart is wearing a black suit and gray striped tie.This morning, defense attorney Richard Bucheri is voicing concerns about the pending testimony of Brandon Griffith, who has yet to testify.The jury has not been allowed in the courtroom, because they have not all arrived at the City-County Building.Judge Robert Altice will not allow Brandon Griffith to testify that the man driving with Desmond Turner , convicted of the mass murders, was a guy by the name of Lucky.Altice ruled that as hearsay since Griffith learned of the mans name through Desmond Turner.The defense would have liked to enter that name into the record to further show that James Alfonso Stewart known as Fonz not Lucky was no nowhere near the crime scene on June 1, 2006.We are still in recess. There are about three people in court supporting James Stewart. There are three representatives of the victims family. A court-appointed translator is working with at least one relative who doesnt speak English.
12/4 9:05 a.m. update:
Court is called into session at 9:04 a.m. We are awaiting the arrival of James Stewart. Stewart is brought into the court and escorted right back out because Judge Robert Altice has a quick hearing he needs to attend to this morning .Stewart is always brought in a suit and shackles before the jury is allowed into the courtroom.
12/3 3:30 p.m. update:
The retired crime scene investigator wrapped up his testimony after the court resumed from lunch break at 1:30 p.m.After 2 p.m., the jurors heard from Erica Guinn who lived on Hamilton Avenue. Guinn testified seeing two men walking by the side of home belonging to the Covarrubias and Valdez family of seven.She said she saw a long gun being held by a man that looked like Desmond. Guinn stretched out her hand to show the size. The other guy had a little gun, she told the prosecutor.Under deputy prosecutor Haleys questioning she was able to identify Desmond Turner, and could only describe the other guy as being taller and buffGuinn broke out in tears when recounted the gunshots and screams coming from the house.The defense team is questioning Ms. Guinn and asking her identifying people in a photograph and video.James Stewart has at least 9 people sitting in the courtroom as a sign of support.The Covarrubias family has a couple of people sitting on the opposite side of the room.Guinn was done testifying at 3:30. The jury was asked if it had any questions for Ms. Guinn.The judge and lawyers are conferring whether questions are permissible under the law. Jurors wanted to know if she noticed the hairstyle of the men she saw on the porch and if could she tell if one mans skin was darker ? lighter? than the other?Guinn says she did not know James Stewart.
12/3 12:30 p.m. update:
Former crime scene specialist Michael Taylor continues his testimony. He explains he worked 26 hours straight at the scene recovering evidence.He is explaining in great detail how he did his job.
12/3 10:35 a.m. update:
At 10:16, Michael Taylor takes the stand.He is retired from the Marion County Crime Lab, where he worked for 19 years.He was a crime scene specialist, which involved taking photographs and recovering evidence.The prosecution, which has no DNA or fingerprints in this case, wants to use Taylors testimony to also address any concerns in the jurys mind since many have seen TV crime shows, where murders are solved within an hour.Taylor said of shows like CSI that they are very entertaining.""Wome of it is factual, but it's very Hollywood, he said.He added that he had other words for those types of TV dramas, but he dare not say it in front of the jury.Judge Robert Altice joked that had not stopped him in the past, which drew a laugh for people in the courtroom.The prosecution asked if it is possible for people not to leave a fingerprint behind at a crime scene.Taylor said some people dont leave fingerprints, depending on body make-up. He also said smokers and people who wash hands frequently may not leave fingerprints.
12/3 10:15 a.m. update:
Evan Lewis, who lived in the neighborhood, took the stand at 10:01 a.m. Lewis testified he remembered hearing screams from the crime scene in June 2006.Lewis testified he saw Desmond Turner in a truck in the neighborhood on the day of the slayings.Under cross examination, the defense is trying to establish a timeline of when Lewis saw Turner in the neighborhood.Attorney Richard Bucheri says he will show evidence that James Stewart was not in the neighborhood that day because he was running errands and then was watching the NBA Finals game with his uncle.Lewis says he had never seen Stewart and did not know Stewart.The jury was asked if they had any questions for Lewis and no one in the jury pool did.
12/3 9:50 a.m. update:
The jury walked in at 9:43. The first witness for the prosecution is Jamison Lewis, who currently works at sporting goods store.In 2006, Lewis lived with his mother near Hamilton Avenue, where the slayings happened.On the day of the killings, he said he was visiting his girlfriend, who lived on Hamilton Avenue, and was playing football with some of the neighborhood guys.Lewis is holding a laser pointer and directing it to a map on large monitor positioned in front of the jury pool.Lewis testified he saw Desmond Turner on the block on that day. Turner was sentenced last month for being the triggerman and mastermind of the killings.Lewis testified that on the night of the killings, I thought what was fireworks was not fireworks. There was a lot of screaming going on, referring to gunshots coming from the home at 560 N. Hamilton Ave., where the victims were found.Lewis also testified that on the day of the killings, he was working at a Speedway gas station up the street from the neighborhood. Police came to his workplace to watch the gas stations surveillance tape. The surveillance tape showed that Desmond Turner was in the gas station hours before the crimes.
12/3 9:20 a.m. update:
The murder trial of James Stewart will get underway after 9:30 a.m. The second day of the trial will begin with testimony from people who live in Hamilton Avenue.Relatives of the victims are in the courtroom. They were not here for opening statements because they had to work and were expecting the trial to start today as originally planned.The trial started early because a jury was seated quicker than expected.
12/2 1:30 p.m. update:
James Stewart has several family members in the courtroom. No one representing the victims is here.Officer Tabitha Forehand is testifying about what she did on the day of the murders.Forehand says she ran to the crime scene once she parked her patrol vehicle.She went inside the home and is describing how the victims bodies where found and that the victims were apparently wearing bedtime clothing.Before entering the room where the three young children were shot to death, she encountered a piece of skullShe says where the boys were found there was blood splatter all over the room.
12/2 1:14 p.m. update:
On the stand is Indianapolis police Officer Tabitha Forehand, who in 2006 worked East District, which covered the Hamilton Avenue neighborhood where the seven people were found dead.
12/2 11:55 p.m. update:
Kermon said when he went back outside, the Hispanic woman met him. When she learned everyone inside was dead, he said she broke down and sobbed."It was like you could feel her soul shake," he said.
12/2 11:49 p.m. update:
Kermon described the house smelling of blood and flesh. He described a gruesome scene in the small room where the bodies of the three small children were found."I could see blood ... scalp, pieces of bone fragments all over the room, like they just blew it up."He said the the heads of the two smaller boys were basically gone from the cheekbones up.
12/2 11:44 a.m. update:
Kermon described walking through the house and finding the bodies of the seven victims."It smelled like burnt gunpowder," he said. Kermon described a haze, indicating many gunshots had been fired in a small space.
12/2 11:30 a.m. update:
Kermon is describing the scene when he arrived at 560 N. Hamilton on the night of the murders. He said he found an Hispanic woman running and screaming in the street. He says she pointed toward the house and said something including "They're shot."
12/2 11:10 a.m. update:
Jurors returned to the courtroom after a short break. The state called Officer Michael Kermon as its first witness. He was the first officer on the scene.
12/2 10:46 a.m. update:
Stewart's attorney says police did not follow leads to track down a second suspect who is not Stewart and that witnesses described another man in different clothing who was with Turner.Bucheri says there is no evidence Turner and Stewart were together the night of the killings.Bucheri told jurors that prosecutors want them to rely on the testimony of informants and snitches instead of hard, scientific evidence.
12/2 10:40 a.m. update:
Stewart's attorney, Richard Bucheri, began his opening statement at 10:32. He is appealing to jurors to use logic and not be swayed by the emotion of the gruesome scene.He told jurors Stewart was not at the scene. He says there is no DNA, no fingerprints, no hair, no evidence that Stewart was at the scene.
12/2 10:31 a.m. update:
Stewart confessed to a girlfriend about the break-in at 560 N. Hamilton and "told her he just started shhoting, shooting, shooting," Haley said.Prosecutors say Stewart also confessed to two other people while in jail.
12/2 10:26 a.m. update:
Haley tells jurors about a group of children who say they saw two men enter the victims' home carrying weapons and that when the kids sent one boy to a neighbor to call 911, the neighbors thought he was kidding around.Haley said the men were in the home for some time before shots were fired.
12/2 10:20 a.m. update:
Haley told jurors Stewart and Turner "brutally slaughtered seven family members.""Two men, two guns, two choices -- to rob and then kill".Jurors stared at photographs of the crime scene while Haley walked them through where each victim was found and how many times they were shot.Haley told jurors two guns were used to commit the crimes. She said Stewart and Turner are "equally responsible, regardless of who pulled the trigger."
12/2 10:07 a.m. update:
Prosecutor Jennifer Haley is about to give the opening statement for the prosecution.
12/2 10:05 a.m. update:
Judge Altice has explained to jurors that they will be allowed to submit questions for witnesses. After attorneys finish their questioning, jurors will be allowed to submit written questions while the witness is still on the stand. Once the witness has left the stand, they will no longer be able to submit questions.
12/2 9:33 a.m. update:
Jurors were sworn in at 9:33. The judge is giving instructions to the 12 jurors -- 6 men and 6 women -- and 4 alternates -- 3 men and 1 woman.Judge Altice is reading each of the 24 charges against James Stewart. He faces 14 charges of murder, 7 charges of criminal confinement, 1 charge robbery, 1 charge having a handgun w/o a license, and 1 charge of burglary.Stewart is sitting directly across the courtroom from the jurors. During the reading, he is looking down at papers.
12/2 9:29 a.m. update:
Judge Robert Altice is back in the courtroom after a short break. Jurors are about to walk in to the courtroom. James Stewart is in leg shackles only, not hand shackles. Opening arguments will start shortly, giving us a good idea of the case each side will try to make.
12/2 8:55 a.m. update:
James Stewart is in court waiting for opening statements in his trial. He's dressed in a dark suit.The court is hearing a series of motions before opening statements, most deal with jury instructions. The public entering the courtroom must go through metal detectors.
11/30 5 p.m. update:
Judge seats 12 jurors -- six men and six women. Four alternates will be selected on Tuesday, while opening statements are expected on Wednesday. Jurors have been told not to watch the news, find out information about the case online or talk about the case.
11/30 4:30 p.m. update:
The remaining pool of jurors called this morning to the City-County Building were called back into Marion County Superior Court 2 for another review from the defense and prosecution team.The day started with 40 jurors. 23 remained by 3:53 p.m.Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Haley is first up asking probing questions people wrote in their jury questionnaire.A couple of people had previously served as jurors in criminal or civil cases. Some are disclosing how they or their relatives were a victim of a crime from a mugging to an apartment burglary. One woman disclosed that her relative works in the Marion County Prosecutors office. One man disclosed he got in trouble in his youth for toilet papering a building and another man he was arrested when he was 19 for driving while intoxicatedIf a jury cant be seated out of this group, the judge says over the next two days 80 more people will be asked to come down to the City-County building in an effort to get the job done.Deputy Prosecutor at 4:16 p.m. is now addressing the entire pool about the significance of felony murder. Haley says James Stewart faces 7 counts of felony murder.
11/30 3:40 p.m. update:
Both sides continue to talk to potential jurors.Erica Davis, who is 14 weeks pregnant, says she is not sure she can be impartial if she were shown autopsy pictures of the children shot and killed in the Hamilton Avenue murders.Davis tells 6News she cant imagine anyone not knowing about the 2006 massacre.She added that she is too emotional due to her pregnancy not to hold James Stewart responsible if shown graphic pictures.Davis was dismissed around 3:30 p.m.
11/30 12:40 p.m. update:
Since 10:45am, the judge and both legal teams are speaking to each potential juror. No has been dismissed yet. Both sides are asking the potential jurors two key questions:1. Can they handle graphic pictures of a family of seven shot to death?2. Would the race of the victims be an issue in making a decision?
11/30 10:40 a.m. update:
Judge Robert Altice tells potential jurors they will not be sequestered and that the death penalty is not an issue and they wont work on Saturday.Altice says the court will pay for parking, buy lunch and pay $40. He is looking for a 2 and a half week commitment.The judge is asking if the time commitment will prove to be an extreme hardship.Here is what the pool is saying:1. Male juror says he is scheduled for a partial knee replacement on December 17th,2. Male juror wants to be excused for financial concern,3. Female juror has a grandmother in hospice,4, Male juror leaves for China next week ( was excused)5.Male juror says he works for small company and he is the only one that can do the work6. Female juror wants out because she is in school and in the middle of intern.7. Female juror is having surgery tomorrow. ( she is excused)8. Female juror is 14 weeks pregnant and doesnt feel great.9. Female juror: I was unemployment and will start a new job on Monday (excused)10. Female juror: had a plane ticket to San Diego (excused)11. Male juror: moving to Florida (excused)12. Male juror: a maintenance tech for apartment complex and will be the only on emergency13. Male juror: medical issues ( excused)14. Male juror: has 2 disabled daughters that need his attention15. Female juror: medical issues (excused)16. Male juror: work and has school finals next week or the week after (excused)
11/30 9:58 a.m. update:
The first jury pool for this trial took its oath.Jennifer Haley and Janna Skelton introduced themselves to the jury pool. They are deputy prosecutors for the Marion County Prosecutors Office.Richard Bucheri is the attorney for James Stewart. Both said good morning to the jury pool.The judge asked the panel if they knew anything about the Hamilton Avenue murders, after reading the charges that Mr. Stewart faces.Of the 40 potential jurors, 20 said they were aware the case.They were not dismissed. The judge said he would come back to them later.At 9:56 a.m., the judge began reading the name of all the witnesses. If the jurors recognize any of the names, they need to say so.None of the jurors recognized the names on the witness list.With nearly 20 people aware of the case, thejudge has set aside two more days to find a jury.
11/30 9:45 a.m. update:
Judge Altice is getting ready to make remarks to the pool.Altice asked, How many of you tried to figure out how to get out of jury duty this morning?." It drew a laugh from the jury pool.Altice told the pool that this was a small sacrifice considering the men and women serving overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq to preserve our system of government.
11/30 9:36 a.m. update:
Judge Robert Altice with Marion County Superior Court 2 has begun jury selection at 9:35Altice also presided over the trial against Desmond Turner and sentenced him to life in prison without parole.In that case, Turner gave up his right to a jury trial. In exchange, the prosecution dropped its plan to seek the death penalty.Turner and Stewart are accused of killing Alberto Covarrubias, Emma Valdez and five members of their family in June 2006.The men were allegedly looking for drugs and money in the home. There were no drugs or money.Four Marion County sheriffs deputies stand watch inside.
11/30 9:10 a.m. update:
Judge Robert Altice called James Stewart, 33, into the courtroom at 9:04 a.m.Stewart is accused of helping Desmond Turner in the Hamilton Avenue slayings in June 2006.Stewart walked into the court at 9:05 a.m. dressed in a tan suit and black tie.The judge is telling both sides how he will address the jury pool and how the jury selection process will go.Forty potential jurors are to be called in Monday -- 120 total over the next three days.Stewart is shacked at the ankles. The defense attorney is telling the judge hes opposed to having Stewart in shackles.The judge overruled the defense request to remove shackles.The judge is hoping the trial will be over by Dec. 18.