Judge Denies Murder Defendant’s Release Request, Schedules Trial

A DC Superior Court judge denied a request to release a 60-year-old murder defendant with a lengthy criminal history.  

Kenneth Stewart is accused of stabbing 54-year-old Connecticut man Courtney Jones to death on July 23, 2020, on the 2300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. He was charged with first-degree murder while armed the next day and has been held at DC Jail ever since.

During the most recent hearing for this case on Feb. 7, defense attorney Dominique Winters argued for Stewart’s release. She also suggested dismissing the case entirely because her client has now waited for more than a year to be indicted while remaining detained the whole time. Winters said Stewart has contracted COVID while in custody.

Winters suggested moving the defendant to a sobriety and rehabilitation center based out of Maryland that will help with employment opportunities. Stewart, who requested the program, would receive housing and mentorship there.

In the alternative, Winters suggested putting Stewart into the High Intensity Supervision Program (HISP.)

The prosecutor opposed these ideas, saying the defendant’s criminal history is about 20 pages long due to his convictions and offenses in past years. Judge Marisa Demeo said that if Stewart was released into HISP and then violated his release conditions, the court may not be notified right away. Judge Demeo acknowledged the defendant’s good behavior while detained, but said that does not eliminate the concerns stemming from his criminal history.

“I just have no confidence at all,” said Judge Demeo. She denied the release request as well as the request to dismiss the case.

The prosecution said they need a later trial date because they are reviewing forensic evidence and waiting on DNA testing. Judge Demeo scheduled the trial to begin in October.

Parties are scheduled to reconvene for a felony status conference on March 17.

Makie Theodros wrote this article.