Victim's pregnancy upset slaying suspect, police say

October 01, 1995|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A 1994 Mercy High School graduate and church youth leader fatally shot last month had become pregnant and as a result, police and court papers reveal, the man charged with her death feared his marriage to another woman would be ruined.

Makeya Chante Stewart, 19, was shot eight times in a West Baltimore alley shortly after telling the suspect and her mother "that the suspect was the father and that she intended to keep the child," city homicide Detective Frank Barlow said.

Keith Alexander Brown, 25, of Pikesville, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder six days after the Sept. 9 shooting, which occurred 10 blocks from where Ms. Stewart lived with her grandmother in the 3100 block of Baker St.

Police found the victim about 3:30 a.m. in the back of several homes in the 3300 block of Gwynns Falls Parkway. She had been shot five times in the back, once in each hand and once in the side of the head.

"How could a person be so mean?" asked Ms. Stewart's grandmother, Mary Gray, 64, yesterday.

Ms. Stewart, a youth leader at New Psalmist Baptist Church, left her parents' Garrison Boulevard home after graduating and moved in with her grandmother, a step toward independence.

About a year ago, Mrs. Gray said, her granddaughter met the suspect and they began dating. Later, the suspect married another woman, but continued to see Ms. Stewart.

"I just didn't approve of him," Mrs. Gray said, adding that she barred him from the house. The grandmother said the suspect was Ms. Stewart's first love. "She was very naive and vulnerable," she said of her granddaughter.

Ms. Stewart got an electronic pager, and police said the suspect used the device to keep in touch, often paging her late at night by punching in a code so she would know he was calling.

Detective Barlow said the suspect paged Ms. Stewart twice the morning of the slaying -- at 1:58 and 2:59 a.m. Police believe she left the house -- without her family knowing -- after 3 a.m.

Police received their first 911 call about 3:30 a.m. from a person who reported hearing several gunshots. An officer found the wounded Ms. Stewart, who died on arrival to Liberty Medical Center.

Investigators said they focused on Mr. Brown after hearing about the relationship from the grandmother. Police traced the pager numbers to a cellular phone registered to the suspect's aunt.

After days of surveillance, police searched the man's car. Detective Barlow said they found a .380 caliber handgun in the trunk -- which he said has been linked to the shooting through ballistic tests -- as well as a clipping from The Sun reporting the slaying.

The detective said a witness heard seven shots and saw a man walk out of the alley carrying a handgun and drive away. The witness told police the man returned to the scene five minutes later and fired one more shot.

Detective Barlow said Ms. Stewart was five weeks pregnant when she was killed. He said police plan to run tests to see if the suspect is the father.

Mr. Brown, who lives in the 4600 block of Debilen Circle in Pikesville, is being held without bail at the city detention center.

The suspect's 26-year-old wife, who asked not to be named, said she was "surprised" by the arrest.

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