Murder suspect had previous convictions

October 15, 2005|By CANDICE BOSELY


The man charged in connection with the murder of a 14-year-old Gerrardstown girl Thursday had previously been convicted in Virginia of abduction and attempted rape and was required to register as a sex offender for life, according to police and court records.

Roger Dwayne Smith, 24, of 419 S. Raleigh St., Martinsburg, was arraigned Friday morning on charges of murder, daytime burglary and malicious wounding.

Miana Stewart, a popular ninth-grader at Musselman High School, was found dead inside the basement of her home at 195 Reunion Corner Road.


"Her mouth was taped and she was tied up everywhere," Sgt. Willie Johnson with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department said. "We're assuming (she died from) some form of asphyxiation."

Stewart's body was taken to the state medical examiner's office in Charleston, W.Va., where an autopsy was performed, Johnson said. The autopsy results were not available.

When Stewart's mother, Mary Stewart, came home she was confronted at her front door and hit on the head at least three times with a baseball bat. She also was bound and taken to the basement, but managed to free herself and run to a neighbor's home for help, police have said.

Both Mary Stewart and her daughter were covered with blankets, Johnson said.

The call was first reported to 911 at 5:37 p.m.

When deputies with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department arrived, a man was seen running from the back of the house. He was taken into custody after a brief foot chase and was found to have blood on his clothing and items that belonged to the victims in his possession, police have said.

Smith, who agreed to speak to police, said he went to the home to steal a dirt bike, court records allege. He said he received no answer when he knocked on the door and went inside the home after finding the front door unlocked, court records state.

When Miana returned home she was tied up after a brief struggle with the intruder, records state.

Police have said that Smith entered the home at around 2:30 p.m., which is half an hour before a school bus typically drops off Miana, police said.

"(Smith) admitted that he was surprised that someone came in. He was in the kitchen when she (Miana) came in," Johnson said. "He said he greeted the mother at the door" because he somehow knew of her impending arrival.

Police believe Mary Stewart came home at around 4 p.m.

The baseball bat might have belonged to Miana Stewart's father, Randy Stewart, who collected sports memorabilia. Other baseball bats were found inside the home, Johnson said.

Johnson said that Miana was not sexually assaulted.

Smith's father lives in the area, police said, and a neighbor said that Smith previously lived in a house across the street from the Stewarts' home.

Johnson said credit is due to other officers who assisted in the investigation, including Capt. K.C. Bohrer, Sgt. Dan McGown, Cpl. Brendan Hall, Sgt. Gary Harmison and Sgt. Ron Gardner.

Johnson said he happened to have a nurse riding with him when the call was dispatched. He said the nurse, along with emergency medical personnel, tried to resuscitate Miana Stewart.

A criminal past

Smith, who was being held without bail Friday in Eastern Regional Jail, has faced charges in Berkeley County over the last two years of failure to properly register as a sex offender, fleeing from police and receiving/transferring stolen property, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

In March, Smith pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of failure to provide police with his current address as required. Because of convictions in 2000 in Virginia on charges of abduction and attempted rape, Smith was required to register for life as a sex offender.

Those charges were filed on Aug. 5, 1999; Smith was found guilty and sentenced on March 13, 2000, to serve 10 years in prison. Six years of the sentence were suspended, according to court records.

He was released from prison on March 17, 2003, according to court records.

The Gloucester County (Va.) Sheriff's Office handled that case, but no one from the office returned a phone call seeking further information about the nature of the abduction and attempted rape charges.

After pleading guilty in March in Berkeley County to the charge of failing to provide police with his current address, Smith was sentenced to serve eight months in jail. He was released from Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg on Aug. 3, Berkeley County Assistant Prosecutor Joshua Henline said.

Last December, Smith pleaded guilty to receiving/transferring stolen property and was sentenced to serve eight months in jail. That charge stemmed from an incident in which a drill, saw and generator were stolen from the back of a pickup truck on May 25, 2004.

Another man told police that he pawned the drill and saw at Mountaineer Gun & Pawn Broker in Eagle Plaza in Hedgesville, W.Va., at Smith's request.

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