Murder of Tynesha Stewart

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Murder of Tynesha Stewart
Tynesha-Stewart-Family-Photo.jpg
Family Photo of Tynesha Stewart
Time c. 3:30 p.m. (EDT)
Date March 15, 2007; 10 years ago (2007-03-15)
Location

17700 Red Oak #224

Harris County, Texas
Coordinates 29.8600° N, 95.3900° W
Cause Choking and dismemberment
Deaths 1
Coroner Harris County Medical Examiner
Convicted Timothy Wayne Shepherd
Charges First-degree murder
Verdict Guilty
Sentence 99 years in prison and $10,000 fine

Tynesha Stewart (1988 - March 15, 2007) was a 19-year-old student murdered on March 15, 2007, by her former boyfriend Timothy Wayne Shepherd.[1][2][3] Stewart was a first year student at Texas A&M University studying civil engineering. She was murdered by Shepherd, who was 27 years old at the time, when she came home for spring break because she had started a new relationship.[3][4]

Investigation[edit]

Shepherd committed the crime at his apartment at 17700 Red Oak #224 in northwest Harris County, Texas.[3] Prosecutors believe that he disposed of Stewart's body by burning it on his two barbecue grills on the balcony of his second floor apartment. This reportedly took 2–3 days to complete.[4] One of the two grills belonged to James Hebert (18 years old at the time) who often played video games and barbecued with Shepherd. Since they barbecued together frequently, Hebert kept his grill on Shepherd's balcony along with Shepherd's smoker. Dionne Whitaker, a neighbor whose patio is directly across from Shepherd's, saw him carry the two grills to the dumpster after days of intensive burning.[3] Other witnesses in the case include Shepherd's cousin, whom Shepherd told prior to the murder that he "could get away with killing someone". In another witness report, Shepherd also stated that he would "boil someone and eat them up".[5]

When initially questioned for ten hours by the police, Shepherd refused to discuss Stewart's disappearance. Afterwards, he spoke with an activist named Quanell X, whom officers credit with helping to obtain a confession.[6] Quanell informed Shepherd that the police would look for incriminating forensic evidence if he was involved. Shepherd started crying as the two spoke and later led the activist and a detective to a trash can where he stated he left the body. When no body was found in the trash container, Shepherd confessed to the murder. However, investigators did discover Stewart's teeth in the disposal.[7]

Shepherd was held in the Harris County Jail on a $250,000 bond.[5]

The trial[edit]

Jury selection for his trial began on September 29, 2008.[8][9][10] During the trial, Shepherd's neighbor Dionne Whitaker remembered the smell as being "worse than the smell of singed hair or burning tires". When Whitaker asked Shepherd about the smell at the time, Shepherd answered it was "the spices".[11] Quanell, who also testified as a witness, stated Shepherd told him, "They're going to kill me, man. They're going to give me the death penalty." Additionally, Stewart's younger sister called Shepherd "controlling", and expanded her statement by telling an incident where Shepherd physically shook Tynesha out of anger after she picked up a cell phone call.[12]

Shepherd's defense attorney, Chip Lewis, argued that Shepherd's constitutional right to a lawyer was violated since he had asked for one prior to confessing. He planned on the judge ruling that the confession was illegally retrieved and could not be used as evidence to convict Shepherd.[11] However, the judge ruled that Shepherd had waived his rights thus allowing the jury to hear the confession.[13] Lewis planned to indicate that the confession was retrieved illegally and the jurors could not use it as evidence to convict Shepherd.

Shepherd was convicted of the crime on October 9, 2008, after jurors deliberated for four hours.[14] He was given the maximum sentence of 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.[15] During the punishment phase of the trial, Shepherd revealed how he murdered Stewart. He pressured her to reveal her new relationship at college, but she refused to answer and grabbed a knife from a table and approached him with it in her hand. She swung at him with the knife and nicked his fingers. Afraid she was going to stab him again, he grabbed her around the neck with one arm and tried to reach the knife with his other hand. He ended up choking her to death out of anger. He later went to the hardware store to purchase a jigsaw. He undressed the body and dismembered it in his bathtub using the jigsaw and other tools.[16] He barbecued the remains on his grills in his patio.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Missing A&M Student's Ex-Boyfriend Leads Police To Dumpster". MSNBC. March 21, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-21. [dead link]
  2. ^ "A&M student presumed dead, boyfriend arrested". The Battalion. March 22, 2007. Archived from the original on March 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-28. 
  3. ^ a b c d Hewitt, Paige (March 24, 2007). "Authorities call off search for A&M student's body". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on March 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-28. 
  4. ^ a b Rohr, Monica (March 26, 2007). "A&M student murdered, body burned". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2006-03-28. 
  5. ^ a b Hewitt, Page (2007-03-29). "Grim details in slaying probe". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-03-31. 
  6. ^ Crowe, Robert (2007-03-23). "Officers Grateful to Quanell X". The Houston Chronicle. pp. B5. Retrieved 2007-03-24. 
  7. ^ "Quanell X: Shepherd showed no remorse for slain Aggie coed". [dead link]
  8. ^ "Man Accused of Killing, Cooking Ex on Barbecue to Stand Trial". Fox News. 2008-09-29. 
  9. ^ "Grisly details of A&M student's death will emerge at trial". 
  10. ^ "Houston man accused of burning ex-girlfriend's body". 
  11. ^ a b "Neighbors recount days after killing of A&M student". 
  12. ^ "Sisters Of Slain Student Testify In Murder Trial". Archived from the original on October 4, 2008. 
  13. ^ Rogers, Brian (2008-10-03). "Quanell X: Murder suspect knew what happened to victim". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-10-04. 
  14. ^ "Man guilty of Texas student's dismemberment murder". Archived from the original on October 13, 2008. 
  15. ^ "Man Convicted of Charring Ex Gets 99 Years in Prison". [dead link]
  16. ^ "Shepherd tells jurors he 'snapped' before killing student". 
  17. ^ "Murder-dismemberment trial ends with maximum term". Archived from the original on 2011-07-15.