Man sent to prison for stabbing his nephew

Cary Ashby • Jul 3, 2013 at 1:15 PM

A Norwalk man was sentenced to prison Tuesday for stabbing his nephew in the stomach.

In mid-May, John W. Stewart, 44, of 40A Cline St., pleaded guilty to an amended charge of aggravated assault, a fourth-degree felony. A Huron County grand jury originally indicted him on felonious assault, a second-degree felony.

The Norwalk Police Department investigated the Feb. 28 incident.

Defense attorney Tom Freeman said at Tuesday’s sentencing hearing that Stewart retreated to his house, where he grabbed a knife to keep his nephew from continuing to hit him in the head with a hammer.

“We agree the defendant (originally) came out of the house with a hammer. … He anticipated trouble with his nephew,” Freeman said.

“This was an argument that turned in a deadly way — for both parties,” Stewart said.

When his nephew showed up at his house, Stewart said he was in “defense mode,” especially since his nephew and a friend jumped him and broke a couple of his ribs a few years ago.

Stewart said he started bleeding from his head after being hit with the hammer.

“I panicked. … I’m not going to stab somebody in front of my children for no reason,” the defendant said.

Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Woodruff said the situation about a custody dispute had been “stewing all day” when people were texting each other and it eventually “boiled over” to the confrontation.

“We think the victim took the hammer away (from Stewart). … The defendant was acting in self-defense,” he said.

The victim wasn’t in the courtroom Tuesday.

“The defendant has a lengthy criminal history dating all the way back to 1989,” Woodruff told Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway. “(There were) mostly misdemeanors. There were some felonies also.”

Stewart was sentenced to 17 months in prison — one month short of the maximum term. Credited with serving 76 days in the Huron County Jail, he must pay $6,392 in restitution for his nephew’s various hospital bills.

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