Crime

Defense: Multiple suspects could have killed man stabbed outside parents’ Lizella home

Kay Lord held a towel, pressing on her son’s chest as he lay on the floor of her Lizella home nearly five years ago.

Moments earlier, the Lord family -- Kay, her husband and their 39-year-old son, Tony -- had been sitting down to dinner when the doorbell rang.

Tony Lord went to the door and stepped outside.

He came back inside the house, located on a cul-de-sac on Altama Place, and said he’d been stabbed. He walked to a closet and retrieved a pistol, but collapsed in the den before he could make it back outside, Kay Lord told a Bibb County deputy.

The deputy, Lt. Brad Wolfe, testified Wednesday in the trial for David Stewart, a 40-year-old Macon man charged with murder in Lord’s death.

It’s undisputed where, when and how Lord was killed.

In opening statements Wednesday morning, both the prosecution and defense presented jurors with multiple suspects who could have killed Lord -- or plotted his death.

The knife wasn’t recovered, and deputies weren’t able to get a fingerprint off the Lords’ doorbell.

EYEWITNESSES TESTIFY

Audra Hughes testified Wednesday that she and Stewart had been at their home on Hunnicutt Road with Stewart’s uncle, Michael Waites, on the day of the killing March 5, 2010.

At some point, Hughes drove Stewart and Waites to the Lords’ house, located off Dixon Road. Stewart gave her directions. She’d never been there before.

Hughes said Stewart went to the door to talk with Ryan Lord, Tony Lord’s son.

A man came out, and she saw them argue.

The man, Tony Lord, told Stewart to leave and “David jumped him,” Hughes testified.

When Stewart returned to the car, he told her and Waites, “I stabbed him,” she said.

Waites also testified, but he said he didn’t see anything other than the two men talking.

He said he couldn’t remember exactly what Stewart said when he returned to the car, whether he said he killed someone or might have killed someone.

Although Hughes said Waites got out of the car while Stewart was on the Lords’ porch, Waites said he stayed in the car.

Afterward, Hughes said she drove Stewart and Waites to Stewart’s parents’ home.

She admitted she didn’t tell investigators what she had seen for nearly two years.

“It was either die or keep my mouth shut,” Hughes testified. She said Stewart had threatened her at knifepoint.

Stewart’s lawyer, Franklin J. Hogue, tried to poke holes in the two witnesses’ testimony, questioning their credibility.

When questioned by Hogue, Hughes said Stewart was in jail when she talked with investigators in February 2012. He saw her and their children about six months later without incident.

Although Hughes has said Stewart threatened her in phone calls placed while he was in jail, there were no threats in two recorded calls played for the jury Wednesday.

Waites said he also stayed quiet for nearly two years due to fear.

“I was scared for my nephew, and I was scared for myself,” he testified.

In his questioning of Hughes, Hogue asked her to review copies of her statements to investigators. She admitted she didn’t say anything about Stewart telling her and Waites that he’d stabbed anyone when she talked to deputies in February 2012. She told them she had learned a man had been stabbed through media reports.

That statement also didn’t contain information about Stewart’s parents telling her to help their son get an alibi, a detail she divulged in a January 2013 statement.

Waites denied telling friends different versions of how Lord was killed, stories including alternative locations and circumstances from the account he gave deputies.

He admitted being a heavy drinker who’s been on probation for about 30 years for auto theft.

Waites said he’s lived with his sister, Stewart’s mother, on and off all his life.

ANOTHER THEORY?

Soon after Stewart was jailed, he had an encounter with Ryan Lord, Tony Lord’s adult son.

Both men were being held at the Bibb County jail in about December 2012 when Lord alleges he threw urine on Stewart. In response, Stewart replied that he would kill Lord just like he killed his father, Lord testified.

Jailed for burglary and a firearm charge, Lord also has a prior aggravated assault conviction. He was brought from the jail in shackles that were removed just before he testified.

Lord also alleged that he had used drugs with Stewart in the past. On one occasion, Stewart gave him money buy him drugs and he took Stewart’s $150, ripping him off, and didn’t deliver the drugs.

He told deputies about the incident, saying it was a reason why Stewart might come looking for him.

In his opening statement to jurors, prosecutor John Regan also said Stewart was “infuriated” that Ryan Lord was dating his daughter, having sex with her and introducing her to drugs.

When questioned by Hogue, Lord said he talked with deputies on the day his father died and gave them another theory.

He told them he’d been in court that morning, accused of cutting a Hispanic man. While there, he saw the man looking at his dad. Looking back, he thought that man may have killed him.

In his opening statement to jurors Hogue said a Hispanic man had been spotted in a car matching the description of one seen leaving the Lords’ driveway after the stabbing.

CUSTODY BATTLE

Lord married in 2008 and his wife, Rebecca, filed for divorce the following year.

The estranged couple had been embroiled in a custody battle for their then 1-year-old daughter in 2009 when Rebecca Lord was charged with attempted murder in the beating and abduction of a Macon man from his home, Hogue said in his opening statement.

Jamie Callahan, then 40, was attacked in his Macon home Aug. 24, 2009. He was nearly beaten to death with baseball bats and fists, tied up and wrapped in a sheet to be carried off -- assumed dead, Hogue said.

Callahan escaped and identified his attackers, which included Rebecca Lord and a teenager who Hogue alleges she hired to kill Callahan.

Lord pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to 20 years, nine of them in prison and the rest on probation.

Hogue said a judge granted Tony Lord emergency custody after her arrest. He was granted temporary custody in February 2010, about a month before the killing. Another hearing was necessary before custody of the young girl was final.

Rebecca Lord offered a man money and described how she wanted Tony Lord killed, Hogue said. The alleged hit man is set to testify.

Letters exchanged between Rebecca Lord and the alleged hit man also are set to be shown to jurors.

Hogue also told jurors that Kay Lord, Tony Lord’s mother, told deputies she looked through the blinds and saw a white car with a black hood leaving the driveway after her son had been stabbed.

The mother of the teenager Hogue contends Rebecca Lord hired to kill Callahan owned a car matching the description of the one Kay Lord saw, Hogue said.

She took that car to a mechanic, and the car disappeared from his unsecured yard in the weeks before Tony Lord was stabbed, he said.

A Hispanic man was spotted riding in the car, Hogue said.

Hogue told jurors Wednesday that Stewart and Tony Lord didn’t know each other.

“David Stewart did not commit murder,” he said. “We don’t know who did it.”

The prosecution rested its case Wednesday, and the defense is set to continue presenting evidence Thursday.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

  Comments