RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Pretrial motions were continuing Monday ahead of jury selection for the trial of a 25-year-old convicted felon accused of gunning down the mother of his infant son and wounding his father when the man tried to intervene.
Andrew Matthew Stewart is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, domestic violence, child cruelty, being a felon in possession of a firearm and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.
Stewart allegedly killed 23-year-old Kim Grajeda, as well as put a bullet in his father, whose name was not disclosed, during a 2019 attack at the latter’s property in the 16000 block of Jordana Circle, a mile north of Lake Mathews.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mark Johnson was considering several motions on proposed exhibits and defense requests Monday morning at the Riverside Hall of Justice, where he was slated to begin summoning prospective jurors for screening as to their availability and qualifications during the afternoon.
Jury selection is expected to last all week.
Stewart is being held in lieu of $2 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail.
According to a trial brief filed by Deputy District Attorney Jessica Roundy, the defendant and Grajeda became romantically involved in 2017, when they were both 21.
The relationship was plagued by conflicts from the beginning, with Stewart trying to control every aspect of the victim’s life, leading to a series of “chaotic and violent” interactions, in spite of which Grajeda became pregnant with the defendant’s son, Max, who was born in April 2019, according to the brief.
The young woman moved into Stewart’s father’s house because her family’s home was unstable and lacking space for her and the baby, Roundy wrote.
“She mused that she expected things to change when their son arrived, but to her dismay, they did not,” the prosecutor said.
She alleged assaults on Grajeda by Stewart were common, with the defendant using his fists and a baseball bat to inflict injuries on different occasions.
Two years before the attack on Grajeda, the defendant had been involved in an assault on a young man, whose name was not disclosed, in Hunt Park in Riverside. Stewart joined a “pack” of associates in targeting the victim, who was minding his own business when they stomped him to the ground and stabbed him nearly a dozen times.
Stewart pointed a Glock semiautomatic pistol at the victim, taunting him with it during the attack.
Witnesses and the victim later identified Stewart as one of the attackers. He pleaded guilty in 2018 to assault with a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon and assault resulting in great bodily injury. The plea was directly to the court, without input from the District Attorney’s Office. Judge Jack Lucky imposed a sentence of 21 years in state prison, but he suspended the sentence in preference to a term of 60 months’ probation, according to court papers.
“The defendant was released from custody on probation that day, and within one year, he killed the mother of his child,” the brief said.
On the afternoon of June 1, 2019, Stewart became enraged with Grajeda, possibly over threats to leave him, and he pulled a handgun and shot her in the shoulder, Roundy alleged.
His father put himself between his son and the wounded woman, calling 911 and telling dispatchers he was in the middle of a “hostage situation,” according to the prosecution.
Max could be heard crying in the background, as well as the defendant shouting, and a swarm of patrol deputies converged on the residence minutes later, the brief stated.
When Stewart saw the patrol vehicles arriving, he grew even more incensed, and when his father tried to protect Grajeda, the defendant shot the man through the left side of his body, according to the brief.
Deputies forcibly entered the house and announced themselves downstairs, at which point they heard ” five to seven rapid-fire gunshots … coming from the upstairs area,” Roundy said.
“Almost immediately, they heard a `thud’ consistent with a firearm being dropped to the floor and saw the defendant emerge from the upstairs,” she said. “Apparently averse to the fate to which he consigned the mother of his child, he made sure to have his hands up so deputies did not shoot him.”
Grajeda had been in a kneeling position and was found shot multiple times in her “face, upper body and hand,” the prosecutor said.
The victim was rushed to Riverside Community Hospital, where she died that evening.
Max was lying in his crib only a few feet from where his mother was shot, but was not injured. The defendant’s father underwent surgery and ultimately recovered from his wound.
Stewart was taken into custody without further incident.
Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.