Houston & Peach

Trial date was set for brutal 1975 Warner Robins killing. Why is case now being dismissed?

Houston district attorney announces indictment in 1987 Warner Robins killing

Houston County District Attorney hold a news conference June 3, 2014, saying Willie Lewis Winters was indicted in the killing of Stephen Jones at the Duck's Breath Saloon in January 1987.
Up Next
Houston County District Attorney hold a news conference June 3, 2014, saying Willie Lewis Winters was indicted in the killing of Stephen Jones at the Duck's Breath Saloon in January 1987.

A high-profile case against a San Antonio woman accused in the 43-year-old killing of a teenager in Warner Robins is being dismissed.

The case against Mary Jane Stewart, 61, was set to go to trial in May. She was free on bond.

But her attorney could not reach her, said Houston County Assistant District Attorney Eric Edwards.

Stewart had died in October under Hospice care in Texas, Edwards said.

Stewart’s Perry attorney Ron Daniels said he first learned of her death when he got a call from the district attorney’s office.

A neighbor of Stewart’s called the district attorney’s office after receiving a court notice for Stewart, Daniels said.

“That’s when I set about trying to determine whether she was alive or dead,” Daniels said.

He said he was “kind of shocked to find that she had died.”

Stewart was indicted April 4, 2017, on charges of malice and felony murder in the Nov. 12, 1975, slaying of 16-year-old Cheryl White.

Stewart was accused of stabbing her former roommate in the chest and cutting her throat with a knife, according to the indictment. White was stabbed 15 times in her throat, arms and side, according to Telegraph archives.

At the time of the slaying, Stewart was 18 and went by the name of Mary Jane Stewart Staples.

KillingStory
This news article featuring Mary Jane Stewart Staples appeared in the Nov. 13, 1975, edition of The Telegraph. She was arrested this month in the killing of her roommate, Cheryl White.

Stewart’s death certificate said she died Oct. 23, 2018, of acute chronic respiratory failure, Edwards said.

Stewart had been ill earlier in the summer of last year but the prosecution had understood that she had recovered, Edwards said.

Edwards said he received the death certificate last week and wanted to first break the news to White’s father. He took it well, Edwards said.

“He’s had 43 years to make peace with it,” Edwards said. “He was thankful we were going to give it a shot.”

Edwards acknowledged that prosecuting an old case can be problematic. Daniels declined comment on the case.

Edwards said he expects to file the formal paperwork in Houston County Superior Court this week to dismiss the case.

  Comments