Two sheriff’s deputies brought Micah Stewart into the courtroom.He was wearing a business suit and a red tie.He was in handcuffs and chains.He walked across the room and sat down next to his attorney, Roger Renteria, at the defense table.The two sheriffs sat down in chairs immediately behind him and stayed there for the length of the hearing.Stewart remained shackled during the hearing.
Assistant District Attorney Christopher Hackman and Michael Landis, Chief Lancaster County Detective, sat at the prosecution table.There were about twenty five spectators in the first two benches.The front bench was reserved for the press.District Justice Robert Herman came into the room.He announced that this was a preliminary hearing on an allegation of criminal homicide.Renteria stood up and requested that any potential witnesses in a future trial be sequestered.Herman granted that.After a minute or two and a court official asking that anyone who had been interviewed by the police in the case stand-up, the four members of the Stewart family, Cindy Adams, Kyle Stewart, Alicia Stewart and David Stewart left the courtroom.
Brett Lovelace, a reporter for the Intell, who reportedly had received a subpoena to testify before the grand jury, stayed in the courtroom.
The first witness was Charles Elwood Fry II, Cortney’s father.Hackman asked Fry to identify Stewart which he did.He said he was his daughter’s boyfriend and the father of her child.Hackman asked if the baby was born on July 4, 2004 and Fry said “yes.”Hackman asked Fry how long they had been together prior to the birth and Fry said, “I wouldn’t honestly know.At least nine months.”
Hackman asked Fry when the last time he saw Cortney was.Fry said it was July 20, 2004 in the late afternoon at Micah’s and Cortney’s apartment.Hackman asked if the address of the apartment was 178 South Fifth Street in Columbia and Fry said it was.Hackman asked Fry if the building the apartment was in was owned by Stewart’s father, David Stewart.Fry said that he “wasn’t aware then” that it was owned by David Stewart.
Hackman asked Fry if there were problems between the couple.Fry said there was an altercation about a week before Cortney disappeared.Hackman asked him if it was related to the baby.Fry said, “I don’t know.”Hackman asked Fry who he saw in the apartment on the 20th.Fry said he saw Micah and the baby who was in a “carrier.”He said he saw his daughter inside.They were getting ready to leave.He said he was only there about two minutes.
Hackman asked him when he was next at the apartment.Fry said the next afternoon at about or He said he brought spring water and came to borrow money for gas for his truck.He said Micah answered the door and let him in and then sat down on the couch.Fry said he asked Micah if Cortney was still sleeping.He said Micah told him “she took off the night before.He said she “bounced.”Hackman asked Fry where the baby was and Fry said he “presumed his daughter had the baby.”He said Micah mentioned the name of a friend of Cortney’s, Nicole in Mt.Joy, as somebody Fry could check with about Cortney.Fry said Micah gave him gas money and then Fry went and bought Micah a six pack of beer.
He said that after he came back, Micah’s mother arrived.Hackman asked if Cindy Adams arrived with the baby.“No,” Fry said.“She was there to get clothes and things for whenChildren and Youth came to pick the baby up.”Fry said she was there for about 15 minutes.Then, “I saw the baby in the hallway – sitting by herself in a car carrier.”He said that Cindy Adams took the baby.Hackman asked, “Were you now concerned about your daughter?”
“Yes,” Fry said.I stopped at my ex-wife’s and learned about some of the problems they (Micah and Cortney) were having.”Fry said that night, July 21, he went to the Police Department in Columbia to report Cortney missing.
“Have you ever seen your daughter since?” Hackman asked.“No,” Fry said.
Renteria cross-examined Fry.He clarified that Fry went to the apartment to borrow gas money for himself.
Fry said of the July 20 visit, “They were busy and said to call later. They didn’t seem distressed.I was only there two or three minutes.They were on their way out.”
Fry said he went back the next day, “to bring spring water and get gas money.”He said Cortney was expecting him to come back.He said he came back about or Renteria asked how long he was there.“A good half hour,” Fry said.“Did you get money for gas?” Renteria asked.“Yes, I did.”“How,” Renteria asked.“Micah gave it to me,” Fry said.Fry described Micah’s demeanor at the time as “low-key.”
The next witness called was Scott Eelman, an East Lampeter detective.He testified that he coordinated the collection of forensic evidence from the 1000 block of Franklin Road where skeletal remains were found.Hackman showed him at board with four photos of the remains.Three were from the scene and one from the autopsy.Hackman asked him if he was present during the autopsy.Eelman said he was present along with coroner Wayne Ross and dentist Stefan Bender.Renteria did not ask the witness any questions.
The third witness called was Dr. Stefan Bender.He stated that he is a “general dentist” in Mt.Joy and has been for 18 years.He testified he was board certified in forensic dentistry.He said Cortney Fry was also his personal patient from 1997 to 2003.He testified that on January 24th he took her dental records and charts to the morgue.Hackman asked if he made a postitive identification of the remains.Bender said, “Yes.Absolutely.”He said there were few teeth missing from the remains.He said the teeth matched the restorations he had done in his office and that she had a “missing bi-cuspid tooth” from birth and the remains corresponded with that.
Renteria cross-examined.He asked Bender if his certification is current today.Bender testified that he has “no current certification” and that he was not certified when he made the identification on January 24th.Renteria asked how old the x-rays he took to the morgue were.Bender said they were from February of 2003.Bender testified he had seen her on two occasions after the set of x-rays were taken for further restorative work.Renteria asked if he was told by detectives that they suspected the remains were Fry’s.Bender said yes, because she had been missing.He said somewhat defensively that he used his records to determine it was Fry.
Hackman looked surprised and taken aback at all of this.He stated that Bender just went in to identify the body.Hackman said he had “not offered him as an expert witness.”He said she had been Bender’s own patient.
NEXT – Dr. Wayne Ross and a missing hyoid bone.
The testimony of the four remaining witnesses will come tomorrow.They are - Dr. Wayne K. Ross, Lemuel James, LancasterCountyDetective Michael Landis and Angelica Rivera.