Man sentenced to life without parole in 1991 double slaying being released

Published 9:18 am Friday, October 25, 2019

GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) — At 17, Paul Murrell Stewart pleaded guilty to capital murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole for his role in a grisly shooting spree that left two men dead at convenience stores east of Greenwood.

Now, at age 41, Stewart is being paroled.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reports the Mississippi Parole Board unanimously approved his parole during a hearing Wednesday in Jackson.

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Board chairman Steven Pickett did not know when Stewart — who has served 24 years — will be released. He said that date is determined by his living arrangements and notification to authorities located where he will reside.

“Inmates are not released until they have an approved address,” said Pickett.

Meanwhile, Stewart remains incarcerated at the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs.

Pickett said the board reviewed Stewart’s age at the time of the crime, his expressions of remorse and “the fact that he was not the killer in the crime.”

Edwin Turner, the adult killer of Eddie Brooks and Everett Curry, was executed in February 2012.

Attorney Hiram Eastland III of Oxford, who represents Stewart, said Stewart and Turner traveled east into Carroll County along U.S. 82 in December 1991. They stopped at a convenience store in Leflore County, where Turner shot Brooks, a cashier, and then drove up to Valley Hill to another store, where Turner shot Curry, a customer outside the business.

They then went to Turner’s house in Carroll County, where they were arrested.

Stewart, the driver, pleaded guilty in return for testimony against Turner and received two life sentences without the possibility of parole. This changed after a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling dealing with juvenile offender law, Eastland said. In 2013, a Carroll County circuit judge ruled that Stewart was “entitled to be resentenced” and in September 2017, the original sentence was vacated, and Stewart was resentenced to “two life sentences with the possibility of parole.”

On March 29, 2018, he was denied parole, but the board said it would look at the case again in 18 months, Eastland said.
He noted that in the early years in prison, when Stewart had no hope of ever getting out, he earned a GED and then an associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree through a theological seminary based in New Orleans.

“He took these actions to better himself,” Eastland said.

Stewart told the board about his remorse, Eastland said, “for being a part of the crime. … He told them not a day has gone by in the 24 years he has been incarcerated that he has not been haunted by this. He wished there was something he could do to take it back.”