The final witness was Angelica Rivera. She gave her name. Hackman asked where she lives. She said, “415 Locust Street in Columbia.” She testified she lives with Dave Stewart, Micah Stewart’s father. Hackman asked if Micah Stewart was in the courtroom. She said, “Yes, over there,” pointing at the defense table and she said, “He’s wearing a beautiful suit.” “Do you consider yourself to be Dave Stewart’s common-law wife?” Hackman asked. Rivera did not respond. Hackman asked how long she had known Micah Stewart. She said since her son was 13 years old. Hackman asked her if she knew Cortney Fry. Rivera said she had known her throughout Micah’s relationship with her. Hackman asked if Stewart and Fry had a child together. Rivera said, “Yes.”
“What happened on July 20th 2004?” Hackman asked. Rivera didn’t answer that question but testified that she called Micah her “son.” “Were you aware Micah was in Delaware?” Hackman asked. “Yes,” Rivera said. “That was planned while Cortney was alive. To go pick up Christine Arnold.”
Hackman asked her who Lemuel James was. She said he was her son. She testified that he drove Stewart to Brooklyn to her niece’s house. “Why did he do that?” Hackman asked. Rivera said, “I don’t know.” She testified that she drove back with him the same night to pick Stewart up. “I wanted him home,” she said. Hackman asked, “Why – because nobody thought he should be away at that time?” Rivera didn’t respond.
Hackman asked her about conversations she had with Stewart. “What did he tell you?”
he asked. “He (Stewart) was in the kitchen crying,” she said. “He was crying and I was hugging him and he said 'I didn’t mean it.’ He was crying.” She testified he said, “I miss her.” She said Stewart said, “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.” She said she let him cry. “He said he missed her,” she testified.
“Was there another time that you talked?” Hackman asked. “Yes,” Rivera said, “a day or two later. He was crying again. He told me he did it and that he didn’t mean it.” “What did he say he did?” Hackman asked. “He was agitated about the DNA test,” Rivera said. “I don’t know why he did it. He knew deep down inside that the baby was his. He said she (Cortney) was acting strange. He said he backslapped her. Her lips swelled up. He got nervous. She went to the door. He didn’t want an incident. He said he pulled on her – he put his hand over her mouth. He put his hand around her mouth. He pulled her back into the apartment and to the bedroom. He panicked. The bedroom – she was dead. His hand – it was an accident. It was an accident.”
“After he told you he accidentally killed Cortney Fry, did that upset you?” Hackman asked. Rivera did not respond. “Did you ask him where her body was?” Hackman asked. “The third time I talked to him,” Rivera said. “He said he burned her.” “How?” Hackman asked. “I don’t know,” Rivera said. “Where was her body?” Hackman asked. “I don’t know,” Rivera said. “I didn’t ask. He just said the window. He said he put her through the window. He didn’t say how. He said he burnt it. He just laid her down.” “Did he say whether it was in town or in the country?” Hackman asked. “He didn’t say. He couldn’t remember,” Rivera said. “Where did he say he put her body?” Hackman asked. “I don’t know,” Rivera said. “Where did he tell you he put her body?” Hackman asked again. Renteria objected. “Judge he’s asked her three times now. She obviously doesn’t know where he put her body.” Renteria followed this by saying, “She’s -----.” I did not catch his exact word but it was not a compliment. Hackman responded with, “I don’t think you should impugn the character of my lead witness.”
“Did he say he put her body in the woods?” Hackman continued. “That was it,” Rivera said. “Under some poison ivy,” she continued. “Did he say why he burned her?” Hackman asked. “He just said it,” Rivera said. “He was crying a lot. He said he was sorry.” Justice Herman asked her, “What did he say he was sorry about.” “He said he was sorry to burn her,” Rivera said. “He was scared that it happened. He didn’t mean it. He’s just a child himself,” she said.
“How did he come to tell you about her body?” Hackman asked. “We were talking little by little,” Rivera said. “Did you wonder why they couldn’t find the body?” Hackman asked. “Yes, I asked him ‘Why can’t they find her body.’ I was thinking I just want this to be over,” Rivera said. “Did you want them to find the body so the Fry family could have peace?” Hackman asked. Renteria objected. “He is leading this witness,” he said. Judge Herman agreed. “Did you want the body found so the Fry family could have peace?” Hackman asked again. Renteria stood again. “He did it again, Judge. He is leading this witness.” Judge Herman looked at Hackman and said, “Some of your questions are somewhat leading.” “I don’t think it’s important enough for him to challenge it,” Hackman responded. “Is that everything he told you?” Hackman asked Rivera. “He was scared,” She said. “I was worried he was going to kill himself. He said he was sorry.”
Renteria cross-examined. He asked if she was Lemuel James’s maternal mother. She said yes. He asked what her relationship was with Micah. She said he was her “step-son.” Renteria asked if Lemuel and Micah were close. She said, “Yes.” “Were they very close?” Renteria asked. “They grew up together,” Rivera answered. Renteria asked when was the first time she was interviewed by the police? She said she had gone down to the precinct. Renteria asked, “How many times have you been questioned by the police?” Rivera said, “Six or seven times.” “Do you want to be here today?” Renteria asked. “No,” she said.
Renteria asked her, “The two times you said you spoke - the first time when he said ‘sorry,’ that could have been about anything, couldn’t it?” Renteria asked. Rivera said the first time he talked about them arguing. She said more details came out the second time they talked.
“Did Micah Stewart ever say to you ‘I killed Cortney Fry?’” Renteria asked. “Not in those exact words,” Rivera said. “Did he ever say, ‘I burned Cortney Fry?’” Renteria continued. Rivera did not respond. “Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ Renteria said. “Did Micah Stewart ever say to you ‘I burned Cortney Fry?’” “No,” Rivera said.
Hackman re-directed. “What did Micah say to you the first time you talked?” he asked. “He said, ‘I did it,’” Rivera said. “He said he backslapped her,” and she took the back of her hand and ran it across her face.
The Commonweath rested. District Justice Herman ruled that the prosecution had met their burden of evidence and Stewart would stand trial for homicide.