The woman found guilty of aggravated assault and murder in the death of James Edward Stewart Jr., during a jury trial last month was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole in court Tuesday.
Marquana Adele Jasper was sentenced by Liberty County Superior Court Judge Glen A. Cheney.
Before Cheney’s sentence, Stewart’s sister Natasha Stewart testified, saying she has a hard time forgiving Jasper. She said her brother, who she called EJ, was her best friend and his death left a void in her heart and family.
“He was my protector, my confidant, the uncle to my son who worshipped the ground he walked on,” she said crying. “He would do anything for anybody.”
Natasha Stewart said her brother was a kind, sweet person, despite a few emotional issues.
“You had options,” she said, looking at Jasper. “You didn’t have to chase my brother. You didn’t have to hit him and you definitely did not have to shoot him.”
The defendant knew her victim since high school and the two had frequent arguments.
During the trial, Jasper’s attorneys, John Ely and Alisa Schlundt, argued that Jasper did not intend to kill Stewart. They said that Stewart was off his medication and had harmed one of Jasper’s three kids.
The defense attorneys said Jasper was merely protecting her children. However, prosecutors showed Jasper retaliated by following Stewart as he trying to get away from her. Jasper got out of her vehicle and assaulted Stewart. When she got back in she pulled a Ruger .117 pellet air rifle and fired it at Stewart.
Tuesday, Stewart’s mother, Lawanna Stewart, said she is looking to God to provide peace for her family and for Jasper’s.
“That destroyed two families,” she said. “I don’t hate you but I don’t understand…I am angry at the situation.”
Jasper’s mother, Addie Mae Jasper, spoke on behalf of her daughter saying she is a good person. She asked the judge for mercy and expressed her condolences to the family of the victim.
“I think about those babies,” she said of Jasper’s three children. “I hate that all this happened and I’m just asking for mercy...that she be able to one day raise her kids.”
Jasper also told the Stewart family how sorry she was.
“I want to ask for forgiveness,” she said. “I want you to know I never had any intention of taking EJ away from you all, never. I don’t understand how my life got to this point.”
Cheney said there were only two options for sentencing, life with or life without parole.
Jasper, 33, will serve 30 years before becoming eligible for her first parole hearing.