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Evidence points to marital, custody issues prompting wife's murder

Gerald Stewart accused of murder after Julie Stewart found dead in trunk

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Gerard Stewart called family members to say he killed his wife, and then took a lot of pills in an attempt to kill himself, according to evidence in the case obtained Monday by News4Jax.

Following a SWAT standoff at the Stewarts' home in June, police found 42-year-old Julie Stewart's body wrapped in bedding and plastic in the trunk of a car. They said she had multiple gunshot wounds, her throat was cut and there were stab wounds to the chest.

News4Jax sifted through hours of video, hundreds of photos and more than 150 of pages of evidence gathered in the murder case. Much of the material points to problems in the couple's 20-year marriage and a custody dispute over their 10-year-old son that escalated into violence.

Stewart, 45, a retired Navy man, was served divorce papers in April.

Several surveillance cameras captured Stewart on June 15 making stops at Academy Sports, Best Buy and Walgreens -- where he bought a backpack and other items for his son, and filled his son’s prescription.

Investigators said those were all found in his SUV, possibly indicating a plan to take off with the boy.

But later that same day, according to investigators, Stewart called relatives to say he had killed his wife, then took pills and barricaded himself inside his Sandalwood home. 

One of those family members then had police alerted.

"I have a temp employee that just received a phone call from her brother in Jacksonville, stating that he killed his wife this morning and he is looking for someplace to take his son," can be heard in audio of a 911 call. 

Stewart told investigators he had been battling depression for the past four years and was about to lose his job.

"Ever since this has been going on, I haven’t been eating, I haven’t been sleeping," Stewart told detectives after his arrest. "I know whatever has happened in the past, we can work on our marriage and I begged her every single day. Every single day."

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Stewart told police his wife admitted having an affair for the last five years.

"As long as she gives me my house and my son, she can have anything else she wanted," Stewart said. "She started naming all the stuff she wanted and I said, 'Fine.' She can have it all ... but don’t try to take my son from me."

MULTIMEDIA:
Gerald Stewart's interrogation | Crime scene photos

Stewart told police he lobbied with her family to patch things up, but her mother told him “only a miracle of God” would save it. He was getting conflicting guidance from family and lawyers, as to what would become of the couple’s son. 

In video of Stewart's interrogation, he can be seen wiping away tears while talking about troubles with his wife and what comes next for his son.

Photos of evidence gathered at the scene show multiple weapons and boxes of ammunition and bloodstains in a bedroom.

Stewart’s next court date is set for mid-December. A trial has not been scheduled.


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