GOSHEN — Todd Stewart, 35, of Bristol, appeared in Elkhart Circuit Court Thursday, May 2, for his initial hearing on a murder charge.
Stewart was appointed an attorney from the public defender’s office. His trial has been scheduled for Sept. 9.
Stewart, who was arrested Wednesday, is accused in the death of Mark Miller. Miller’s body was found stuffed in a barrel floating down the St. Joseph River on Sept. 20, 2012
The charge of murder does not allow the person accused to bail out from jail. Stewart is booked at the Elkhart County Jail.
Friends and family of both Miller and Stewart were at the initial hearing. They sat silently looking at the man accused of shooting and killing Miller.
The Elkhart County Prosecutor’s office released details of the investigation that led to him being charged and then arrested. A witness said Stewart shot Miller the night of Sept. 7, 2012. The person told police he helped Stewart load the barrel into Stewart’s truck.
Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department detectives also tracked Stewart’s cell phone use that night and got evidence that he made purchases at Meijer related to the crime.
Police served a search warrant at a residence where Stewart had lived previously on October 2012.
Stewart had been previously convicted in a couple of battery offenses. In 2001 he pleaded guilty to battery. He had been initially charged with battery by means of a deadly weapon, a Class C felony. In 2007, Stewart pleaded guilty to battery as a lesser offense after he was charged with battery in the physical presence of a child less than 16 years of age, a Class D felony. Family and friends of Miller have expressed relief that Stewart has been charged.