Kenneth A. Stewart, 19, of Springfield, was convicted of one count of first-degree assault, two counts of first-degree endangering the welfare of a child and three counts of armed criminal action following a jury trial.
On July 25, 2013, Stewart shot the victim while he was playing with is then 5-year-old and 4-year-old daughters in his backyard in the 600 block of W. Mt. Vernon St. in Springfield.
According to a news statement, Stewart climbed a privacy fence on the south side of the victim’s property and approached him with a handgun.
The victim picked up his daughters and ran toward his house to get the children inside. Stewart pursued the victim and fired multiple shots at him as he carried his daughters. Two shots hit the victim, one in the back of his shoulder and one in the back of his hip.
The first bullet remained lodged in his arm until it was removed four months after the shooting, while the second bullet passed through the victim’s body, resulting in an exit wound in the front of his hip. He has had extensive medical treatment since the shooting, including emergency exploratory surgery, according to the statement.
The victim reported that he had seen Stewart prior to the shooting and was immediately able to identify him. Police located Stewart shortly after the shooting at a nearby apartment complex.
After a brief standoff, Stewart exited one of the apartment units and police gained consent to search the apartment. Inside, they found a small-caliber handgun matching the description of the weapon provided by the victim.
Springfield Police officers discovered three shell casings at the scene of the shooting which matched the make and caliber of those found at the apartment, along with two slugs which had passed through the exterior walls of the victim’s home into the interior.
At trial, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Philip Fuhrman introduced into evidence a portion of the exterior siding from the victim’s home, which had been riddled with seven bullet holes.
The victim testified that this paneling had been located behind him and his daughters as they fled from Stewart’s gunshots.
Fuhrman also presented a videotaped interview with the defendant wherein Stewart admitted to going to the victim’s house, climbing the fence to his backyard, and shooting a gun six to seven times. He also acknowledged that children were present at the scene.
Stewart also admitted that he had hidden the handgun at the apartment after the shooting.
The State requested the maximum possible sentence on the assault in the first degree and endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree counts.
After hearing evidence and argument, the jury recommended a 14-year sentence for the conviction for assault in the first degree, a 3-year sentence for the conviction for armed criminal action, a 6-year sentence for the conviction for endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree, a 3-year sentence for the conviction for armed criminal action, a 6-year sentence for the conviction for endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree, and a 3-year sentence for the conviction for armed criminal action.
Stewart is currently being held in the Greene County Jail without bond. A sentencing hearing has been set for May 2, 2014.
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