LILLINGTON, N.C. (WNCN) — One of the men charged with killing two teens in a January 2016 hit-and-run in Harnett County had his first court appearance today in Lillington.
Davis Christian Stewart, 21, of Lillington made his first court appearance in Harnett County court Monday.
Stewart is charged in connection with the Jan. 16, 2016, incident that left Jennafer Schark, 13, and Kyle Strait, 16, dead. A 14-year-old was also injured in the hit-and-run.
The 21-year-old is charged with two counts of felony hit and run causing death or serious bodily injury, one count of felony hit and run causing injury, altering and removing evidence, conspiracy to alter or remove evidence, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to obstruct justice in connection with the fatal collision on U.S. Route 421.
In order to face his charges today, Stewart, who was a volunteer firefighter in Harnett County before he joined the Marines, had to be extradited from Twentynine Palms, California, where he had been in military training.
Authorities said that Stewart was driving the 1993 Chevrolet Silverado that mowed down the teens that night. His passenger, 20-year-old Donald Conrad Crounse, of Raleigh, was also charged in the crime. He faces two counts of felony hit and run causing death or serious bodily injury, one count of felony hit and run causing injury, altering and removing evidence, conspiracy to alter and remove evidence, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and conspiracy to commit felony hit and run.
The case remained open for more than a year until a trooper happened to see the suspect’s vehicle at a Lillington auto repair shop, warrants say.
In July 2016, the North Carolina State Crime Lab examined trace evidence found on one of the victim’s clothing.
That examination revealed the vehicle that killed Strait and Schark was teal metallic in color but had been painted gray, warrants say.
On Jan. 16, investigators reviewed surveillance footage from businesses near the fatal collision.
The State Lab’s examination allowed investigators to identify in that footage what they believed to be the suspect vehicle – a single-cab Chevrolet or GMC short-bed truck that was gray in color.
On Jan. 29, a state trooper went to an auto repair shop in Lillington as part of an investigation into an unrelated vehicle collision.
The trooper happened to notice a truck parked in the shop’s yard that matched the description of the vehicle seen in surveillance footage.
The trooper spoke with an employee of the shop who said the truck was his grandson’s and had been at the shop for more than a year.
The truck parked at the shop was a 1993 Chevrolet Silverado short-bed with significant front-end damage, warrants say.
Detectives later responded to the shop and had the truck towed for further investigation.
That investigation led to charges against Stewart and the arrest of Crounse.
Crounse was given a $100,000 secured bond.
Stewart was given a $250,000 secured bond, but had that reduced to $125,000 at his court appearance today. The judge said that with the reduce of his bond, Stewart cannot leave the state of North Carolina.
Stewart’s probable cause hearing is scheduled for July 11.