JUSTICE MUST BE FOUND
I am going to print the testimony of Angelica Rivera in Micah Stewart’s preliminary hearing tomorrow. But first, I would like to say a few things about the hearing. The Fry family deserved better than this. They deserved far better.
This was one of the most unprofessional and poorly orchestrated hearings by a prosecution that I have ever seen or can possibly imagine. This case has been a disgrace since Cortney Fry “disappeared” on July 20, 2004, and it just keeps getting worse.
The lead detective was missing from the hearing. His replacement, the “case manager,” Lancaster County Detective Michael Landis, did not know if the state police had analyzed any of the evidence that was seized from Stewart’s apartment and car over a year earlier.
Assistant District Attorney Christopher Hackman “led” witness Angelica Rivera to such a point that he might as well have been testifying. And at one point when Stewart’s attorney, Roger Renteria, objected to his leading several times, Hackman said, “I don’t think it’s important enough for you to challenge it.” Excuse me? This is a preliminary hearing in a murder case. A man’s life is at stake. This is the prosecution’s primary witness and the only real evidence the prosecution has to back up a murder charge, and Hackman doesn’t think it’s important enough?
Yes, you can argue that it was a preliminary hearing and really more of a show than anything else. The result was pretty much guaranteed. But there honestly was a point during Rivera’s testimony when I wondered whether Judge Herman would rule that there was not enough evidence to put Stewart on trial for murder. That’s how bad it was.
Kudos to the Fry family who filled up almost two benches and were quiet and attentive during the entire hearing. A young girl, I believe it was Cortney’s sister, silently cried after the testimony of her father. Her intense pain was evident. And someone, justifiably, said after Landis’s testimony, “They are a little unprepared, aren’t they?” The Fry family deserved better than this.
So did the Stewart family who waited outside the courtroom during the two hours of the hearing after they were sequestered. The incredibly sloppy handling of this case has not been fair for them either. They had to live with the suspicion for a year and began to have false hopes that someone other than their son and brother would be arrested for Cortney’s murder.
The District Attorney’s office has a lot of questions to answer on this case. I predict a great many personnel changes in the DA’s office when all of this is over.
But for now, a 19-year-old mother of a two-week-old baby was killed over a year ago. Justice has to be found for both families.