Published: 5/18/2013 | Updated: 07/19/2023
ROCKDALE COUNTY, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News has learned the grandparents of one baby who was killed are seeking custody of a second child born in jail after the parents were accused of murder in what the defense lawyer said is the worst child abuse case he’s seen.
Defense attorney Lee Sexton said, “I’ve been practicing for 30 years, and this is clearly the worst abuse case that I’ve ever seen.”
Sexton’s client, Grant Stewart, is one of the parents accused of killing his 5-month-old child, James Stewart.
Grant’s stepfather, David Hurd, told investigative reporter Mark Winne, “I just want justice for my grandson; whatever happened needs to come out.”
Hurd said he believes his stepson is innocent, and Sexton also maintains his client’s innocence.
Sexton told Winne that Grant was the legal but not biological father of James.
Grant is a long-haul trucker who called 911 and gave James CPR in vain, according to Sexton. Sexton said a magistrate judge dropped the charge against Grant before a grand jury brought it back.
Assistant District Attorney Debra Sullivan indicated the infant suffered abuse throughout most of his short life.
“Rib fractures in multiple stages of healing. There were fractures to the arms and the legs in multiple stages of healing,” said Sullivan.
Hurd said, “You think of the pain that he must have gone through and the suffering.”
Channel 2 was in court Monday when Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation ordered Grant be held without bond.
Nation told Winne, this case was “probably one of the worst child abuse cases I’ve ever seen.”
Sexton blamed Grant’s wife, co-defendant Matea Mendez Stewart, as the one responsible for the abuse, though Sexton acknowledged his client initially lied to protect her. Matea has pleaded not guilty.
Hurd said, regarding his stepson’s statements to police, “That lie is costing him dearly, and it’s costing us as a family dearly.”
Sexton said another baby’s future now hangs in the balance after Matea gave birth to the couple’s daughter while in jail in connection with James’ death.
A custody hearing in Juvenile Court is set for Wednesday morning. Grant’s parents, Matea’s mother and a third party will seek custody of the baby girl.
“That baby is 3 months old, been in foster care. We were ready to take her the day she was born,” said Hurd.
It is possible the judge could leave the baby in foster care for now.
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