Jury finds Pineville man guilty of rape at local bar
Aaron Shelby Stewart will be sentenced on March 20 by Judge Patricia Koch
RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - After nearly four hours of deliberation, on March 9, 2023, a Rapides Parish jury found Aaron Shelby Stewart, 31 of Pineville, guilty of third-degree rape.
The Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office said testimony showed Stewart followed a 26-year-old woman into the bathroom of East Side Daiquiris on Highway 28 East in Pineville on Feb. 4, 2022, and sexually assaulted her. The case was investigated by the Pineville Police Department.
Assistant District Attorney Brian Cespiva, who prosecuted the case, and police Chief Darrell Basco said Stewart was a patron of the bar.
Testimony started on Wednesday and the jury deliberated nearly four hours before reaching a verdict on Thursday night shortly before 9 p.m.
“Young people deserve to feel safe and secure in local places of businesses,” said Cespiva. “I am pleased with the jury verdict, which serves as a reminder to criminals that their nefarious activities will not be tolerated in Rapides Parish.”
Chief Basco told News Channel 5 that the management of East Side Daiquiris was helpful with the investigation.
“Our patrol and investigative bureaus worked with our partners at the Rapides District Attorney’s Office to obtain this conviction and get justice for the victim,” said Chief Basco.
Stewart’s defense attorney, Chad Guillot, released this statement about the verdict.
“My client and I are disappointed in the verdict,” said Guillot. “The only legal issue that was at dispute in this case was whether the alleged victim consented. The jury deliberated for nearly four hours, indicating that there was plenty of discussion about whether the act was consensual. Mr. Stewart maintains that he acted with the consent of the alleged victim.”
Stewart will be sentenced on March 20 by Judge Patricia Koch. A conviction of third-degree rape carries up to 25 years in prison without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.
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