From Daniel Stewart’s appeal: Kathy and Defendant fought frequently, and he described his marriage as “very bad.” Defendant told others that he and Kathy had been pretending and that his marriage to Kathy was a lie. At various times, Defendant described Kathy as cold, indifferent and cruel. Defendant said that he wanted to leave Kathy, but he wasn’t sure how he would get along on his own because everything was in her name.
May 12, 2003 was a Monday. That evening, Kathy and Defendant had a loud argument in the family home. The couple argued so loudly that their children heard it from the second and third floors of the house. Sometime during the night, Alex saw Kathy’s van leave the house with its headlights off. Alex did not have a clock in his room, so he was unsure what time he saw the van leave. His estimates of the time varied from as early as 10:30 p.m. to as late as 3:00 a.m. the next morning.
On Tuesday morning, Defendant went to a gas station between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m. The attendant noticed that Defendant had a black smudge on his face. He told the attendant that he had been mowing. Sometime after Defendant left the gas station, one of his children called to say that Kathy wasn’t around and to let Defendant know they needed a ride to school. On the way to school, Defendant and the children stopped at a supermarket. An employee noticed that Defendant had a black streak on the right side of his face, which hid the skin underneath it. When the employee spoke to Defendant, she noted that Defendant seemed to be talking too fast. Defendant told the clerk that he had been mowing that morning.
On Tuesday afternoon, Defendant filed a missing person report. During discussions with police, however, Defendant said Kathy would often leave for days at a time without telling anyone where she was. Defendant told police that, the last time he had seen Kathy, she was wearing her shirt and her underwear. That same afternoon, several witnesses observed a large scratch on the right side of Defendant’s face. Defendant gave differing explanations of how he got scratched. In one version, Defendant said he was struck by a wire while mowing. In a second version, Defendant said he was scratched by a limb while mowing. In a third version, Defendant said he was scratched by a branch. In giving these explanations, Defendant often volunteered the information without anyone having asked him how he got scratched. Defendant stated that the scratch looked bad because Kathy was missing, and that he looked “guilty as sin.” During an interview conducted after Kathy was reported missing, Alex stated that the scratch was present when he saw Defendant Tuesday morning before school. Defendant claimed he did not receive the scratch until after he had taken the children to school.
Kathy and Defendant mainly drove separate vehicles. Kathy had a van, and Defendant had a truck. One of Kathy’s co-workers, Angela Ewing (Ewing), found Kathy’s van in a park on Tuesday evening. Ewing drove to the Stewart home to tell Defendant that she had found the van. Defendant refused to go with Ewing to look at the van and said he did not want to be around the vehicle. Three of Defendant’s hairs were later found on a rug in the van. On Wednesday morning, Ewing saw Defendant again in the school. At that time, Ewing noticed several scratches on Defendant’s neck.
On either Wednesday or Thursday of that same week, Defendant went to a local tire shop to have a lawn mower repaired. Several employees of the tire shop noticed that Defendant’s right hand was swollen. Although Defendant claimed that he injured his hand while helping the employees unload the mower, there was testimony that Defendant’s hand was swollen before he touched the mower. Defendant also had an injury to his right forearm. He told an acquaintance that Kathy had inflicted the injury on him during their fight on Monday night. Multiple witnesses also noticed scratches on Defendant’s neck.
Thereafter, the police took photographs of the scratches on Defendant’s face, neck, right forearm, and of the injury to Defendant’s right hand. An officer visited the site where Defendant claimed he had hit a wire while mowing, but no wire was found. The Stewart residence also was searched. Inside, officers found a towel with a drop of blood on it and a drop of blood on the utility room floor. Both drops of blood were matched to Defendant. Additionally, officers observed a streak about as wide as a body across one of the floors in the home. In the hallway of the house, a plate was knocked over inside a china cabinet. The house had a strong odor of bleach.
In Defendant’s presence, Kathy’s brother said he could forgive Defendant if he had anything to do with Kathy’s disappearance or if she was killed. Defendant did not respond to that accusation. Throughout the investigation into Kathy’s disappearance and the ongoing search for her, Defendant did not appear to be concerned about whether any progress was being made to find his wife. Instead, he appeared more concerned about law enforcement’s focus on his relationship with Kathy and with the questions he was being asked by police. Defendant did not participate in any of the searches for Kathy. Neither did he put out any missing person fliers. At one point in the investigation, and before Kathy’s body had been found, Defendant referred to Kathy in the past tense, stating, “Why would I kill her, I loved her, I mean I love her.” Around that same time, Defendant also said, “You know, I know something bad’s happened this time.” When a police officer tried to reassure Defendant, Defendant responded that, “No, it’s different this time, I know something bad’s happened to her.”
On Saturday, a search party consisting of over 100 volunteers and law enforcement officers was formed to look for Kathy. Defendant did not participate in the search. Several members of the party found Kathy’s body by Cowskin Creek, approximately three and one-half miles away from Ava. The body was naked except for a pair of underwear on one leg. A shirt was found several feet from the body. One of Kathy’s fingernails was broken, but the State was unable to find any DNA under her fingernails due to the body’s decomposition. The pathologist who performed the autopsy determined that the manner of death was homicide, and Kathy’s cause of death was listed as asphyxiation due to suffocation.
Defendant received a $15,000 death benefit from Kathy’s employer and $1,700 per month from Kathy’s retirement benefits. He also made a claim on another $15,000 life insurance policy.
Defendant argues that the evidence favorable to the State, coupled with all reasonable inferences which can be drawn therefrom, is insufficient to support a conviction for second-degree murder. This Court disagrees. Murder in the second degree is committed when a person “[k]nowingly causes the death of another person or, with the purpose of causing serious physical injury to another person, causes the death of another person[.]” § 565.021. It is irrelevant that the State’s case was largely based on circumstantial evidence. “When reviewing for sufficiency of the evidence, circumstantial evidence is afforded the same weight as direct evidence.” State v. Brooks, 158 S.W.3d 841, 847 (Mo.App.2005). The relevant issue before this Court is whether a reasonable juror could find each of the elements of the charged crime beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Mishler, 908 S.W.2d 888, 893 (Mo.App.1995).
Defendant’s challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence does not specifically advise this Court which element of the crime of second-degree murder has not been adequately proven. Therefore, the point is best analyzed by resorting to the corpus delicti of the crime. See State v. Applegate, 668 S.W.2d 624, 627-28 (Mo.App.1984). The corpus delicti of a homicide consists of two portions: (1) the death of a human being; and (2) the criminal agency of another causing the death. Id. at 628; see State v. Williams, 897 S.W.2d 631, 634 (Mo.App.1995). These elements cannot be met unless the State has shown that the death was not accidental, self-inflicted or due to natural causes. Applegate, 668 S.W.2d at 628. After these elements have been met, the State must further show the defendant’s criminal act was a cause of the victim’s death. Williams, 897 S.W.2d at 634.
The State met its burden in proving the two elements of the corpus delicti. Kathy’s body was recovered and identified, and a pathologist determined that her death was a homicide by strangulation. The State also presented sufficient evidence from which a reasonable juror could find that Defendant’s criminal act was a cause of Kathy’s death. Defendant had a loud argument with Kathy the night she disappeared. One of the children saw Kathy’s van leaving the house without the vehicle’s headlights illuminated late Monday evening or early Tuesday morning. After Kathy’s disappearance, Defendant had multiple scratches on his face, neck and arm and had sustained an injury to his hand. Defendant gave varying accounts as to how he received these injuries. For example, Defendant claimed that he injured his hand while unloading his mower, but there was testimony that the injury existed before Defendant made any attempt to unload the machine. The jury was presented with evidence that Defendant was unhappy with his marriage, fought frequently with Kathy and had a motive for killing her. It would have been financially difficult for Defendant to divorce Kathy since the majority of the couple’s property was in her name, and Defendant’s business was producing little or no income. Defendant filed a missing person report on Tuesday, even though he also told police that Kathy often left for days at a time without telling anyone where she went. Defendant also said that, when he last saw Kathy at home, she was only wearing a shirt and underwear. The same type of clothing was found on or near Kathy’s body when it was discovered. Defendant made a number of odd and suspicious statements to witnesses and police after Kathy disappeared. For example, Defendant referred to Kathy in the past tense before she was found, and Defendant did not respond to a rather direct accusation that he was involved in Kathy’s disappearance. Her body was found to have a broken fingernail. The jurors could reasonably infer that this injury occurred while Kathy resisted an attack from Defendant and that Defendant’s scratches and hand injury were sustained while he strangled his wife. The jury could further infer that Kathy’s van had been used to haul away her body. Viewed in a light most favorable to the verdict, the evidence and reasonable inferences derived therefrom are sufficient to sustain Defendant’s conviction for second-degree murder.
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State of Missouri v Daniel K. Stewart 2008
Swamp Murders: Murder in the Ozarks
DOC Id 1134062
Offender Name Daniel K Stewart
Date of Birth 04/23/1966
Height/Weight 5’10” / 160
Hair/Eyes Brown /Blue
Assigned Location South Central Correctional Center
Address 255 West Highway 32, Licking, MO 65542
Assigned Officer Phone Number (573) 674-4470
Sentence Summary 25 Years
Active Offenses MURDER 2ND DEGREE
Completed Offenses Completed sentence not found
Aliases Danny KAY; Daniel Keith Stewart
Filed under: crime, Monsters Among Us, murder, murder in the 21st Century, Psycho for Love | Tagged: 2003, Daniel Stewart, homicide, Kathy Stewart, Missouri, spousal murder, strangulation | 1 Comment »