Hung jury in the trial of Lufkin man charged with sexual abuse of child

Marquis Stewart mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.
Marquis Stewart mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Morgan Thomas - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - "Hung jury," that's the decision of an Angelina County jury deciding the fate of Marquis Stewart, 20, on trial for sexual assault.  Stewart was accused of sexually assaulting a 13 year old girl.

He told a jury Friday that his confession was not true.

Stewart said he did not understand the questioning from police. His attorney, John Tunnell, explained that his limited cognitive abilities made him say things he thought would please authority.

Stewart also told the jury he had been concerned about flirting from the alleged victim during that time and told his group home's case manager about her advances.

The defense then called Angie Beechum, Stewart's case worker from Feb. 2007 to April 2008.  She collaborated Stewart's testimony and said he was concerned about the alleged victim's constant calls.

The last witness to be called in the Stewart trial was the alleged victim.  He answered only a few questions about the defendant's testimony that she continually flirted with him prior to April and May of 2008.

She denied ever "coming on to him" and flirting with him. Prosecuting attorney Tony Latino asked her, "Did you ever indicate you wanted to have sex with Mr. Stewart?" She replied, "No, sir."

In the defense's closing remarks Tunnell emphasized to the jury that the burden of proof was on the state and that Marquis Stewart did not have to prove anything.

Tunnell reminded the jury about the sex assault exam's findings that there was no evidence of a sexual assault at all.

"There was no damage to the vagina.  There was no evidence of healing in the vagina.  There was no damage to the hymen. There was no evidence of healing of the hymen," said Tunnell.

He also talked about how Stewart's caseworker heard Stewart complain about the victim's flirtations and advances prior to the alleged events.

"He was concerned and it made him uncomfortable," said Tunnell.

Tunnell also talked about the taped statement given to police by Stewart.  He said their "rapid-fire" questioning was not understood by Stewart who has very limited mental abilities.  By definition this made the confession "unvoluntary" and should not be considered in their decision.

Stewart was charged with continual sexual abuse of a child.  No decision has been made as to whether the case will be tried again.

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