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Decatur man charged with slashing police car tires to be evaluated

Decatur man charged with slashing police car tires to be evaluated


DECATUR — Travis C. Stewart, convicted of spray-paint vandalism at police headquarters and now facing a charge he punctured a police squad car tire, will be examined by a doctor to see if he is mentally fit to stand trial.

Stewart, 36, appeared in court Feb. 19 and Macon County Circuit Court Judge Phoebe Bowers ordered a mental fitness hearing scheduled for March 25. Stewart is charged with a single count of causing criminal damage to government property, a Class 4 felony, and has yet to enter a formal plea.

A sworn affidavit from Macon County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Hoffman said he had been in uniform and working security at the Decatur Public Transit Center on the afternoon of Jan. 13 when he was told the left rear tire on his squad car was flat. Hoffman had later checked video surveillance and watched, he said, Stewart watching him before he headed outside.

“Stewart approaches the left rear tire, his right hand comes out of a backpack holding an object and the object goes down toward the tire,” said Hoffman. “He looks down as his hand goes down. He continues to walk away, gets on the sidewalk and turns to look back at MC27 (the squad car). He places the object back into the backpack and leaves.”

Hoffman said the car’s left rear tire had a “noticeable drop” in pressure shortly afterward and slowly deflated.

Stewart, appearing at an earlier hearing with defense attorney Caleb Brown, was asked by Bowers if he intended to represent himself.

“If the state actually intends to take this to trial, of course,” Stewart replied. “To my understanding, the prosecution has absolutely zero evidence so I have my doubts this even makes it out of the pretrial (hearing).”

Stewart is free on bail of $11,500, which means he posted $1,150 to bond out.

In December, Stewart was sentenced to 24 months probation after prosecutors say he went on a paint vandalism spree in August that included spraying the word “traitor” in the lobby of the Decatur Police headquarters and the entrance doors to the Macon County Courthouse.

Stewart pleaded guilty to a single count of criminal defacement of property. Prosecutors said he also smashed windows and filled locks with glue at the Decatur Bicycle Shoppe, 1230 E. Pershing Road. A dispute with shop staff, prosecutors said, had triggered his acts of vandalism, and he had also sprayed words on Heritage Behavioral Health Center and a building on the Decatur Memorial Hospital campus.

Stewart was also sentenced to 60 days in jail, with credit for 60 days already spent in custody, and had been ordered to pay restitution of $5,834 and told to continue with his “current course of mental health treatment.”

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid


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