Meleke Stewart brought a pistol for a reason before he met with a 34-year-old man he’d promised to exchange sex for money, an assistant solicitor said during the opening statement of a Horry County murder trial.
It was June 2014, and Stewart lured Alton Daniels to the Days Inn on 9th Avenue and Yaupon Drive, assistant solicitor Jonathan Miles said. But, then Daniels was later found shot dead in his car.
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.
Daniels’ pants buckle was undone and his zipper was down, Paul Sweeney, a Myrtle Beach police officer testified on Wednesday. In his Mazda car, police found one shell casing after his body was removed, said Myrtle Beach police officer William Stair. There were two cellphones, a bible in the trunk, $61 in the side driver’s door and $115 in a wallet in the trunk, Stair said.
Texts presented to the jury Wednesday revealed the negotiation between Stewart and Daniels, prosecutors say.
The conversation shows $50 was offered for oral sex, then down to $45, up to $300 and back below $100. The two talked about how to meet up and what happened after that is what the state will try to prove to the jury. A handful of phone conversations happened early in the morning, phone records show.
With much emotion during opening statements, Miles told the jury that Stewart shot and killed Daniels in Daniels’ car. He said Daniels was trying to get away.
“Daniels’ driver door was wide open, he almost made it out, but Stewart wouldn’t let him,” Miles said.
Daniels, of Shallotte, North Carolina, 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. Records placed Stewart’s phone in the parking lot at the time of the shooting, according to an arrest affidavit.
Stewart was charged with murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, attempted armed robbery and conspiracy.
Stewart sat quietly with his head down most of the morning, rarely whispering to attorneys and looking around the courtroom.
Defense attorney Eric Fox said there are more than one interpretation of the event.
“What happened when they met up is where this disagreement is,” Fox said during opening statements. “The police got a theory, they had a dead body…the police from the very beginning decided it was murder. I believe it was not.”
Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765; @HannahLStrong