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Dail Stewart

Other Utah Exonerations
On February 14, 1984, a group of inmates at the Utah State Prison beat and fatally stabbed fellow inmate, Glen Evert.

After an investigation, the Salt Lake County District Attorney charged four inmates with second-degree murder—Dail Stewart, George Christensen, Frank Dominquez and Tommy Coleman.

All four went to trial together in December 1984. Other inmates testified that on the day of the murder, Evert separately accused Stewart and Dominquez of stealing items from Evert’s cell. Evert beat up both men, leaving them with black eyes and swollen lips.

Later that evening, according to testimony, the four defendants, along with about 20 other inmates, some armed with weapons, including homemade knives, confronted Evert in his cell. A brawl broke out and Evert managed to flee. The inmates chased him through several prison buildings before Evert was tackled, beaten and stabbed.

One inmate, Russell Spencer, testified that he saw Stewart holding a knife in his hand and stabbing Evert. Another inmate, Roy O’Connor, testified that he saw Stewart with a knife in his hand during the melee.

A medical examiner testified that although Evert suffered numerous bruises and had been beaten, he was killed by a single stab wound that pierced his heart.

Stewart, who was serving a sentence for a burglary conviction, did not testify at the trial, but denied any involvement in the crime during an investigation of the murder by prison officials.

On December 20, 1984, the jury convicted Stewart and Christensen of second-degree murder. Dominquez and Coleman were acquitted. Stewart and Christensen were sentenced to five years to life in prison.

In 1990, an attorney for Stewart located Ronald Ribarch, who had been an inmate in the prison at the time of the crime, and was believed to be among those who were involved in the beating. Ribarch had been paroled just a few weeks after the murder and defense attorneys had been unable to find him at the time of the trial. Ribarch told Stewart’s attorney that another inmate—not Stewart—stabbed Evert and that Stewart was not among the inmates who chased and caught Evert following the initial confrontation.

Prompted by Ribarch’s disclosure, Stewart’s attorney tracked down O’Connor, who admitted that he had falsely implicated Stewart at the trial. O’Connor said that although Stewart was present at the initial confrontation of Evert, he had a stick, not a knife, in his hand. O’Connor said Stewart did not stab Evert.

Stewart’s attorney filed a motion to vacate his conviction and a hearing was held in July 1990. In November 1990, Third District Judge Kenneth Rigtrup granted the motion and vacated Stewart’s conviction. The prosecution appealed, but in April 1992, the Utah Supreme Court upheld the decision granting a new trial.

In May 1992, the prosecution dismissed the charge and Stewart was released. He had spent five of the previous six years in solitary confinement.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 10/14/2014
County:Salt Lake
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1984
Sentence:5 to life
Age at the date of reported crime:22
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No