An inmate serving life for killing his girlfriend, days after she gave birth to their daughter, had his latest appeal for relief denied.
A federal district court in Philadelphia recently denied Micah Stewart’s argument that his initial appeal lawyer, and trial lawyer, were ineffective.
Stewart, now 30, has served about 10 years of his sentence for killing 19-year-old Cortney Fry in July 2004, bludgeoning her in the head with a screwdriver.
About six months later, a hunter found Fry’s body, burned, in a Manor Township field.
Stewart was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. He’s also serving a separate 30-to-60-year term for viciously beating a cellmate at Lancaster County Prison.
On appeal, Stewart alleged that his appeal lawyer should’ve raised a potential diminished capacity defense; specifically, that Stewart was high on crack cocaine and marijuana at the time of the killing.
Because of that, Stewart argued, he was incapable of forming a specific intent to kill – an element of first-degree murder.
The federal court, in its order, wrote there was no testimony at trial to support such a defense.
Stewart has exhausted all appeals at the state level.
Stewart, 19 when he was charged, was apparently enraged over a belief that Fry was having an affair and the baby wasn’t his. A paternity test proved the child was his.
Other powerful evidence in the conviction were confessions Stewart made to his stepmother and stepbrother about killing Fry.
Also, police found gloves stained with Fry’s blood, and a screwdriver – the murder weapon – in Stewart’s car.
A witness also saw Stewart discard Fry’s clothing and other belongings in a trash bin two days before she was reported missing.
(See CrimeWatch/Twitter feed for Stewart's photo.)
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