Timothy Stewart's mug shot
Nearly a year after 60-year-old psychiatric nurse Terry Rex Spray was found bludgeoned in the garage of his Cathedral Hill aparment, a jury found his husband, 48-year-old Timothy Stewart, a commercial fisherman not guilty of murder, announced the office of the Public Defender, which had represented Stewart. The couple had been longtime domestic partners, and married in 2004 during the brief window in which same sex marriage was legal in San Francisco. If convicted, Stewart could have faced life in prison.
Spray was found unconscious and bleeding from the head on August 3rd, 2012 and clung tenuously to life before dying in a hospital bed on September 18th. Stewart was arrested soon after. Surveillance camera footage showed Stewart leaving the building through the garage minutes before police estimated that Spray was attacked. The defense pointed to a pattern of trespassers and auto burglaries in the building during the time leading up to the beating. Prosecutors had suggested that Stewart had killed Spray for his pension.
According to the Bay Area Reporter, Spray had worked as nurse at San Francisco General and UCSF Parnassus, and had been active in union politics, including serving as the President of Service Employees International Union Local 790. Though the Public Defender's Office maintained that Stewart did not have a history of violence, and that prosecutors had not established a motive, neighbors of the couple told a less sanguine story. The Bay Area Reporter story from October quoted a neighbor of the men as saying that Stewart had a history of drinking, a habit which Spray criticized. The couple was evicted from a previous apartment after Stewart was caught on security video stealing a refrigerator from a loading dock.
"Timothy Stewart is an innocent man who has been through a Kafka-esque nightmare," said Deputy Public Defender Danielle Harris.
As for the prosecution, the Examiner quoted Assistant District Attorney Alex Bastian as saying, "We respect the jury's decision."
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