It took a jury approximately 90 minutes Wednesday to find a woman guilty of aggravated assault and murder in the death of James Edward Stewart Jr. He was killed on June 6, 2014.
Defendant Marquana Adele Jasper wept openly after the verdict was read. The trial started Tuesday in the Liberty County Justice Center before Liberty County Superior Court Judge Glen A. Cheney.
Jasper and Stewart had known each other since high school.
Jasper’s defense attorneys John Ely and Alisa Schlundt argued that Jasper did not intend to kill Stewart. They said Jasper was protecting her children. The defense said Stewart had slapped one of Jasper’s three children.
The defense said Stewart was off his medication, and not acting right.
After her child was hit, Jasper followed Stewart in a Chevrolet Tahoe as he trotted down Elim Church Road near its intersection with Highway 196, trying to get away from her. Jasper got out of the vehicle and assaulted Stewart. When she got back in she pulled a Ruger .117 pellet air rifle and fired it at Stewart.
Stewart was found by police in a ditch on Highway 196 and airlifted to Memorial Hospital where he later died. According to the medical examiner, the cause of death was the pellet wound in his brain.
Schlundt said Jasper's actions were justified, doing what a good mother would do to protect her children.
Liberty County Assistant District Attorney Hugh Ridgway said Jasper could have alerted authorities and done numerous other things instead of taking matters into her own hands. He called the shooting an act of revenge.
Jasper will be sentenced on Sept. 5.
More on this story to follow with a full report in the Sunday Coastal Courier.