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Edward Stewart

Other Philadelphia Exonerations
On April 7, 2006, 31-year-old Kevin Bing was fatally shot in the head with a shotgun in a basement speakeasy in a row house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that was co-owned by Alvin Hooper, Jr., and Edward Stewart.

Hooper initially called a friend, former Philadelphia police officer Omar Taylor, and said he saw Stewart grab the shotgun from underneath the bar and shoot Bing during an argument over which branch of the military—the Marines or the Army—was superior.

Taylor advised Hooper to go to the police. When Hooper arrived at the police station, he had blood, human tissue and brain matter on his shirt, pants and shoes. Hooper told a different story to detectives than he had told Omar Taylor. He said that he had fallen asleep and woke to the sound of the gun blast and saw Stewart with the gun in his hand. Police went to the speakeasy where they found Bing’s body.

Stewart was arrested and charged with murder and use of a firearm. He went to trial in Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas in August 2007. A medical examiner testified that 59 shotgun pellets were recovered from Bing’s head and that he had been shot at close range. The medical examiner also testified that when Bing was shot, his head jerked to the side and as a result, blood spatter would have not blown back on the shooter. The gun was never recovered.

Taylor testified that Hooper telephoned him and that he advised Hooper to report the shooting to the police. The defense attacked Hooper’s two different versions of the shooting and sought to portray Hooper as the gunman because the blood and human tissue on his clothing, which was Bing’s, suggested that he had fired the fatal shot. Hooper admitted that he had prior convictions for drunken driving and drug possession.

Stewart testified in his own defense and said he was at home at 4819 N. Franklin Street with his fiancée and their children. He said he learned of the shooting about three hours after it occurred when he checked his cell phone and found messages from his grandmother and from the police saying that homicide detectives wanted to speak with him.

Stewart’s grandmother testified that he lived at the Franklin Street address, although she admitted that she initially told police that he lived above the speakeasy.

On August 6, 2007, the jury convicted Stewart of murder and use of a weapon. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed Stewart’s conviction in 2009. Stewart then filed a post-conviction petition for a new trial claiming that his trial defense lawyer had provided an inadequate legal defense by failing to call Stewart’s fiancée, Rasheda Grazier, as a defense witness to corroborate his testimony.

In December 2011, after a hearing, the trial court granted the motion and vacated Stewart’s conviction. The prosecution appealed, and the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the decision in December 2013.

The Superior Court noted that Grazier was at the trial and prepared to testify. The Court rejected the assertion of Stewart’s trial lawyer that he was unaware that Grazier was available and willing to testify until the day before the trial and he was not prepared to call her as a witness. The Court noted that Stewart’s grandmother provided two letters that had been sent to the defense attorney well before the trial, which specifically referred to Grazier and provided contact information.

“This case hinged on whether the jury believed (Stewart) had an alibi or Hooper’s testimony,” the Court said. “The evidence in this case was not overwhelming….The alibi witness’s testimony that (Stewart) was with her at the time of the commission of the crime could have benefited him and cast doubt on Hooper’s testimony.”

In November 2015, Stewart went to trial for a second time. A different medical examiner testified for the prosecution because the medical examiner in the first trial was no longer at the office. Under questioning by Stewart's defense lawyer, Leon Goodman, this examiner testified that in fact the blood spatter would have blown back on the shooter. In addition, a police officer who was at the crime scene testified for the first time that there was no blood spatter on the other side of Bing--where Hooper claimed he was at the time of the shooting.

On December 3, 2015, after Grazier had testified that Stewart was with her and their children on the day Bing was shot, the jury acquitted Stewart and he was released.

In January, Stewart filed a lawsuit alleging that in September 2015--two months before his retrial--guards at the Curran-Frumhold Correctional Facility where he was being held prior to the trial, placed him in handcuffs in a cell with an inmate who then attacked and beat Stewart until he was unconscious. The lawsuit accused the guards of also beating Stewart when he regained consciousness. In December 2019, after a trial of the lawsuit, a jury found in favor of the guards.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 5/5/2016
Last Updated: 8/31/2020
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Illegal Use of a Weapon
Reported Crime Date:2006
Age at the date of reported crime:26
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Perjury or False Accusation, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No