District Attorney's Office


  

Conasauga Judicial Circuit of Georgia




   Serving Murray & Whitfield Counties

STEWART ENTERS PLEA TO MURDER

October 21, 2019 (Chatsworth) – Eric Charles Stewart (26), formerly of Calhoun, entered a guilty plea today to the murder of Donnie Ray Charles and was sentenced by Superior Court Judge William T. Boyett to serve the remainder of his life in prison. District Attorney Bert Poston and Assistant District Attorney Keely Parker planned to select a jury this morning in Stewart’s case prior to the change of plea. Stewart was facing a mandatory life in prison without parole had he been convicted at trial due to a prior armed robbery conviction out of Alabama. Stewart was on parole from Alabama and on probation for a shoplifting charge in Calhoun at the time of his arrest. Stewart was represented by Natalie Glaser and Cat Pyne of the Public Defender’s Office.

On the evening of May 16, 2019, Stewart was released from the Gordon County Jail after entering a plea to a shoplifting charge. He had been living in Calhoun at the time of that arrest having previously stayed with a family across the street from the victim’s residence on the extreme south end of Murray County near the Gordon County line. Stewart found himself unwelcome to return to either location and appears to have established a camp site near the victim’s residence on Sexton Road. The evidence at trial would have established that in the early morning hours, Stewart went to the victim’s residence and most likely asked to spend the night or otherwise asked for assistance. It is believe that Mr. Charles declined and asked Stewart to leave, at which point Stewart grabbed a baseball bat and began beating the victim. At some point, Stewart also beat Mr. Charles with a pair of clipping shears with one handle missing. Both weapons were found at the scene with the victim’s blood on them and Stewart’s DNA on the grip-end of the bat and on the one handle of the shears. The other shear handle was found at Stewart’s camp site along with several items of the victim’s property. Stewart was arrested the morning of May 17th while the crime-scene investigation was still ongoing when Sheriff Gary Langford and Chief Deputy Jimmy Davenport decided to check Couch Road, which is north of but connects with Sexton Road, before returning to Chatsworth. They found Stewart walking north and Davenport placed him under arrest. A search incident to arrest led to the discovery of the victim’s cell phone in Stewart’s pocket. The victim’s debit card was later located in Stewart’s wallet.

After his arrest, Stewart denied being at the victim’s residence that evening or having anything to do with the murder. Later, Stewart made statements to other individuals, including another inmate, and to family members claiming self-defense. Stewart will serve a minimum of 30 years before becoming eligible for parole consideration.

Bert Poston
District Attorney
Conasauga Judicial Circuit


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Bert Poston,
District Attorney


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