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Ex-marine appears in court

Ex-marine appears in court

Posted: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 9:07 pm
By: John Brannon Messenger Staff Reporter

Ex-marine appears in court | Ex-marine appears in court
 By JOHN BRANNON Staff Reporter So much trouble in so short a time for a young man. Since mid-November, James R. Stewart of Union City, formerly of Hickman, Ky., has seen authorities file a mountain of felony and misdemeanor charges against him — at least seven Class D felonies and one Class A misdemeanor — in addition to four charges of violation of the Tennessee check law and five charges of misrepresentation of military decorations. He is accused of breaking into Sunswept Baptist Church in Union City on multiple occasions and taking cash and other property. One of the high-value items allegedly pilfered was a Drug Task Force video camera set up in the church because of previous break-ins. Sunswept Baptist Church? Yes. Isn’t that where church pastor, the Rev. James Kinsey, has an Open Door ministry that helps the homeless and such? Yes, that’s the one. It was at Sunswept where Stewart sought and received help last fall, allegedly presenting himself as a homeless veteran of the war in Iraq, where he said he served with the U.S. Marines and was severely wounded. On Dec. 4, 2009, The Messenger published a story about his situation and wartime service, quoting him about his near-death experience. But, alas, the story turned out to be a fabrication. He had not been in the Marines four years, as he had stated, but for only seven months. And he never went overseas. Nor did he receive the prestigious medals he said he did. And he had been issued a general discharge by the U.S. Marine Corps. Stewart admitted to a sheriff’s investigator he had lied. He has also admitted, according to court documents, to committing some of the crimes of burglary and theft with which he is charged. Tuesday, he stood at a center-stage podium in Obion County General Sessions Court. General Sessions Judge Jimmy Smith presided. At Stewart’s side was court-appointed defense attorney Adam Campbell. The clothing Stewart wore to court was far removed from what he once wore when he was one of the proud, the few, the U.S. Marines. He wore the distinctive garb that instantly labels one a prisoner — a black and white striped jumpsuit. Also, he was escorted by deputies and jailers and his hands were shackled. In court, a formal setting of law and order, Stewart did not stand tall and proud as he once did as a young Marine. His shoulders slumped, his face wore a defeated look, his eyes peered out over dark half-moons. In the course of things, when spoken to by the judge, his replies were barely audible. Unable to post the $50,000 bond imposed on him by Smith during a Jan. 21 court appearance, Stewart has remained incarcerated at the Obion County Law Enforcement Complex. Tuesday, Campbell spoke on Stewart’s behalf and asked the judge to lower the bond from $50,000 to $5,000. Judge Smith didn’t look favorably on the request. He said Stewart is accused of committing serious crimes while he free on bond on other charges — four violations of the check law — and therefore he did not feel disposed to grant the relief. The $50,000 bond would continue. Further, Smith added, the case will be presented to a grand jury when it convenes next week. If Stewart is indicted, his case will be transferred to Obion County Circuit Court for adjudication. Smith told defense attorney Campbell that he or some other attorney representing Stewart could then petition Circuit Court for a bond reduction, as well as a court order that Stewart be sent to Bolivar for a mental evaluation. Stewart was returned to the county jail to await further proceedings. Published in The Messenger 1.27.10

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