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Zackary Lee Stewart

Other Missouri DNA Exonerations
On November 29, 2006, 53-year-old David Dulin was fatally shot in the head during a robbery in his home in Hurley, Missouri.
Before he died, Dulin called 911 and reported that while he did not know the two men who attacked and shot him, they were local residents and one was the “Eby girl’s boyfriend.”
Police began by questioning members of the family of Paula Eby, a neighbor. One of those questioned was her son, 18-year-old high school senior Zackary Lee Stewart. During his December 1 interview, Stewart allegedly discussed a .22-caliber pistol—the type of weapon used in the murder. He denied any knowledge of the crime and was released. Stewart's sisters were Candy Seaman, married to but separated from Tim Seaman, and Christy Pethoud, then living with her boyfriend, 31-year-old Leo Connelly. Although Pethoud's last name was not "Eby," investigators considered her an "Eby girl."

Stewart told investigators that he spent the night in question at the home of Pethoud and Connelly, and that Tim Seaman was married to his sister, Candy Seaman.

On March 15, 2007, Alicia Kimberling went to the Stone County Judicial Center for a probation appointment. Stone County Sheriff’s investigator Karl Wagner learned that Kimberling had said Leo Connelly was involved in the homicide, so he arrested her for a probation violation and interviewed her. Kimberling identified Connelly and Pethoud as Dulin's killers, but did not claim Stewart was involved. When Wagner said Stewart was a suspect and that Stewart and Connelly were together that night, Kimberling agreed to assist the investigation after learning about potential rewards for cooperating.

Wagner gave Kimberling devices to record conversations with Connelly, Candy Seaman, and Stewart on March 16, 17, and 20, but no incriminating evidence was obtained.

On March 27, after Stone County prosecutor Matt Selby discussed a plea agreement with Kimberling's attorney, Selby and Wagner interviewed Kimberling. For the first time, she said that she saw Stewart, Connelly, and Pethoud in a car shortly after the homicide. Kimberling said that Connelly was covered in blood and that Stewart was in the back of the car and that she saw a gun.

On March 29, Wagner completed an affidavit or statement of probable cause based upon Kimberling’s March 27 interview. However, the statement did not report that she had implicated Pethoud and Connelly, but not Stewart, at the initial interview and that interview was never disclosed to the defense.

That day, Selby filed murder charges based on the probable cause statement against Stewart, who was serving a two-week jail sentence for DWI.

Although Connelly also was charged with murder, the prosecution dismissed that charge in September 2007.
In May 2008, at Stewart’s trial—which was moved to nearby Greene County—two men who had been housed in the jail with Stewart both testified that Stewart told them he went with Connelly and four others to steal narcotics from Dulin. When Dulin pulled a pistol, Stewart wrested it away and shot him. Kimberling did not testify.

During the trial, DNA tests were performed on a bloody hat found at the scene of the crime. Preliminary results showed that neither Stewart’s nor Connelly’s DNA was on the hat, but the DNA from three others—Dulin, an unknown person, and Stewart’s brother-in-law, Tim Seaman—was present. Seaman was married to Eby’s daughter, Candy, and defense attorneys contended that Dulin’s dying statement that one of his assailants was the “Eby girl’s boyfriend” was a reference to Seaman.
Prosecutors argued while that the DNA showed a “hit” to Seaman, it was not a “match.” The defense presented testimony from Stewart’s sister, Christy, that he was with her at home on the night of the crime. A jury convicted Stewart of murder on March 28, 2008, and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Lawyers for Stewart filed a motion for a new trial and presented evidence that Seaman had made admissions that he killed Dulin shortly after the murder. The motion for new trial was denied, but on May 25, 2010, the Missouri Supreme Court vacated the conviction and ordered a new trial, citing the newly discovered evidence.
On December 3, 2010, prosecutors dismissed charges against Stewart and released him from prison. Days later, Stone County authorities charged Seaman, 36, with Dulin’s murder. In March 2012, Seaman pled guilty to murder and was sentenced to 21 1/2 years in prison.

Stewart later filed a lawsuit that was settled for an undisclosed amount.
– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 11/13/2023
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Robbery
Reported Crime Date:2006
Sentence:Life without parole
Age at the date of reported crime:18
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes*