First, he lost his husband; then, he lost his liberty. But now he is free.
Timothy Stewart, 48, of San Francisco, was found not guilty on Monday in the killing of his husband after spending the past 11 months behind bars, Public Defender's Office spokeswoman Tamara Barak Aparton said.
Stewart's 60-year-old husband, Terry Rex Spray, was found unconscious and bleeding from the head Aug. 3, 2012, in the garage of the couple's Cathedral Hill apartment building. He died in the hospital Sept. 18 and police arrested and charged Stewart with his murder Sept. 24.
There was no history of discord between the men, Aparton said, and little evidence to suggest Stewart was responsible for the killing. Police were unable to turn up any blood, DNA or fingerprints linking Stewart to the crime. Bloody footprints left at the scene did not match Stewart's shoes and no murder weapon was ever found.
The cause of death also was questioned by a former San Francisco medical examiner, who testified that she could not rule out accidental death, according to the Public Defender's Office. The current medical examiner ruled it a homicide.
The case against Stewart was based on surveillance footage that showed Stewart leaving the garage about eight minutes before police said Spray was attacked. But after Stewart left the garage, someone tampered with the camera to obscure its view of the garage.
A man was seen leaving the garage 10 minutes later. He appeared to be balding and only the back of his head was visible; Stewart has a full head of hair, Aparton said.
Within hours of discovering Spray's body, police focused solely on Stewart and ignored other possibilities, Aparton said, such as reports of numerous trespassers and burglaries into the garage in the months and weeks leading up to the attack.
Prosecutors claimed that Stewart killed Spray for his pension, Aparton said, and that he was motivated by an on-again, off-again relationship with a woman. That woman testified that Stewart was acting normal the day of Spray's murder and that he had no blood on his clothes or shoes.
Stewart, a commercial fisherman with no history of violence, was released Monday night. He faced life in prison.
His lawyer, Danielle Harris, said the decision to charge Stewart with murder was "terrifying and unbelievable."
Prosecutors maintain they had enough evidence to pursue charges.