Crime

Murder trial begins for man accused of using sex to lure victim into robbery in MB

Meleke Stewart sits through pretrial motions on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. Stewart was convicted of murder and other charges Thursday in the shooting death of 34-year-old Alton Daniels in June 2014.
Meleke Stewart sits through pretrial motions on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. Stewart was convicted of murder and other charges Thursday in the shooting death of 34-year-old Alton Daniels in June 2014. hstrong@thesunnews.com

Meleke Stewart sat shirtless in a room at the Chester County Sheriff’s Office being questioned by a Myrtle Beach police investigator four years ago.

This week, Stewart will sit in a courtroom, facing a jury in connection to the murder of 34-year-old Alton Daniels in June 2014. Pretrial motions began Tuesday in the Horry County courthouse for Stewart, who is charged with murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, attempted armed robbery and conspiracy.

In the video-recorded interview four years ago that was first made public Tuesday, a Myrtle Beach investigator showed Stewart cellphone records between his phone and the phone of Daniels, who was later found shot dead in his car parked in a lot at 9th Avenue South and Yaupon Drive.

He told the investigator he was not willing to give oral sex to Daniels for $300.

“If you’re into guys,” the investigator said. “I don’t care.”

Stewart said he didn’t intend to perform oral sex.

Myrtle Beach police said two suspects — Stewart and Broderick Roscoe, both 18 at the time — lured Daniels to the area, claiming to exchange money for sex with Daniels. But they had the intention of robbing Daniels. And cellphone records showed a phone that belonged to Stewart had called and and sent texts to Daniels multiple times about meeting for sex in exchange for money.

Records placed Stewart’s phone in the parking lot at the time of the shooting, according to an affidavit.

Daniels, of Shallotte, North Carolina, suffered multiple gunshot wounds. He died instantly. A bullet went through his right shoulder blade, through both lungs and out under his left armpit, police said in the two-hour interview with Stewart.

On Tuesday, Judge Thomas Cooper said Stewart is competent to stand trial after hearing from a medical expert who detailed interviews with Stewart prior to the trial.

Dr. Sheresa Christopher, who works with forensic evaluations at the Medical University of South Carolina, said Stewart has a learning disability and major depressive disorder.

“He’s had a lot of loss of loved ones,” she said.

Christopher concluded, however, that Stewart was competent to stand trial.

One of Stewart’s attorneys expressed concerns, saying his client, who was a junior in high school at the time of the crime, cannot read and has a low IQ, and it has been difficult discussing the trial with him. But the judge ultimately said he was fit to stand trial.

Opening arguments are expected Wednesday morning.

Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765; @HannahLStrong
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