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 interrogation, 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.
But, a few months later, while under arrest on unrelated charges, Stewart was housed with two other prisoners, both of whom later came forward and said Stewart had confessed to them that he killed Dulin.
Stewart and another man, Leo Connelly, 31, of Crane, Missouri, who was living with one of Stewart’s sisters at the time, were charged with murder.
In September, 2007, Stone County prosecutors dropped charges against Connelly.
In May 2008, at Stewart’s trial—which was moved to nearby Greene County—both jailhouse snitches 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.
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.
– Maurice Possley