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Jury convicts man of drug charge

A jury needed less than an hour to convict a Brookhaven man of acocaine possession charge Monday in a one-day trial in LincolnCounty Circuit Court.

Tommy Stewart, 23, faces sentencing at a later date after beingfound guilty of unlawful possession of cocaine related to his Aug.1, 2002, arrest during a traffic stop on Monticello Street. Severalrocks of cocaine were found between two cassettes by then-policeofficer Tony Moak.

Assistant District Attorney Timothy Jones was pleased with thejury’s careful deliberations and the verdict they reached.

“We feel like the verdict is in the interest of justice,” Jonessaid.

During the defense portion of the trial, Stewart repeatedlydenied ownership of the cocaine.

On the witness stand, Stewart said other people had been in thecar earlier in the day. Stormy Weathersby, whose sister Sharonowned the vehicle that Stewart was driving, said he had seenanother person, Cedric Watson, driving the car “minutes” beforeStewart was stopped.

Prosecutors, however, pointed out a number of discrepanciesbetween Stewart’s trial testimony and what he told officersimmediately following his arrest. One involved an alleged argument,which Stewart denied, between him and Watson involving Watsonlosing his rocks of cocaine.

“It’s a lie on top of lie on top of a lie,” District AttorneyDee Bates told jurors during his closing statement.

Prosecutors also pointed out testimony from area narcotics agentScott Thompson, who said Stewart admitted to owning the cocaine.Defense attorney Gus Sermos said the confession, which he calledthe “holy grail” of law enforcement work, was not written down inany reports.

“We’re here today because Tommy Stewart didn’t confess to it,”Sermos said.

Pointing out Stewart’s 1998 uttering forgery conviction inArizona, prosecutors told jurors the trial was aboutcredibility.

Jones urged jurors to assemble the pieces of the puzzle. He saidthey would have difficulty with Stewart’s piece.

“That piece of the puzzle is not going to fit into the puzzleyou’re putting together,” Jones said.