Jury selection is slated to wrap up Wednesday or Thursday for the murder trial of an ex-con accused of shooting a San Jacinto woman and throwing her out of a moving car.
Traevon Denae Stewart, 42, is charged with first-degree murder for the 2017 slaying of 40-year-old Latoya Calhoun, with a special circumstance allegation of killing in the course of a robbery, as well as two counts of making criminal threats and one count of felony evading. He’s facing life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
Riverside County Superior Court Kelly Hanson on Tuesday summoned several panels of prospective jurors to the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta for screening as to their availability and qualifications. The process could conclude Wednesday afternoon but may carry over into Wednesday, at which opening statements would likely be scheduled Thursday.
The defendant is being held without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
Stewart’s co-defendant, 65-year-old Michael Wayne Bird of Banning, pleaded guilty in November 2017 to being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced to two years in county jail.
According to sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Himmelberg, Calhoun was shot multiple times and dumped from a vehicle in the 2600 block of Esplanade Avenue, near Kirby Street, in San Jacinto on the morning of April 29, 2017. Paramedics arrived a few minutes later and pronounced the woman dead at the scene.
Detectives developed leads pointing to Stewart as the alleged shooter, and he was arrested in Banning two days later. Bird was also taken into custody at that time.
A possible motive for the attack was not disclosed, though investigators acknowledged that the defendant and victim were acquainted.
According to court records, Stewart has prior convictions for assault with a firearm and possession of drugs for sale.
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