Trial underway for South Jeffco murder suspect

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By Deborah Swearingen

The prosecutor in the Jordan Lemarinel murder trial on Friday told the jury that video surveillance showed the defendant attempting to put the victim’s body into a vehicle.

Lemarinel’s defense attorney, however, said in opening statements that his client acted in self-defense when he shot Stewart.

The trial of Lemarinel, one of two suspects in the May 2017 murder of a Littleton man, will continue Monday at the Jefferson County courthouse with witnesses from the prosecution. It is scheduled to go through March 9.

Kenneth Crise, who lives in South Jeffco, also is charged in the murder, and he will be tried separately on March 14.

Lemarinel, 27, is charged with first-degree murder, tampering with a deceased human body, tampering with physical evidence, aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and more in connection with the May 1 death of 26-year-old Samuel Addison Stewart, a Littleton native and Dakota Ridge High School graduate.

Lemarinel was arrested last May and pleaded not guilty to all charges in late September.

Opening statements
In opening statements, Deputy District Attorney Jed Greenblatt asked the 12-member jury to remember the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.”

“It’s an adage that is ever present in the case you’re about to hear,” he said.

Lemarinel and Stewart both reportedly struggled with substance abuse and addiction, something referenced frequently by both the prosecution and defense.

Despite this, Greenblatt suggested Lemarinel had multiple opportunities to seek help and referenced video surveillance that captured the moments before and after Stewart’s death, where Lemarinel is seen hiding from neighbors while attempting to put Stewart’s deceased body into the victim’s white Ford Explorer.

However, Rob Heineman, Lemarinel’s public defender, argued his client acted in self-defense, noting Lemarinel and Stewart hadn’t known each other prior to May 1. On that day, Lemarinel had several stab wounds, including two on or around his back.

Heineman said his client’s decision to not call law enforcement is indicative of “typical junkie” behavior.

“May 1st was not a good day for a number of people,” he said.

According to courtroom testimony: On the morning of May 1, Stewart drove his white Ford Explorer to the home of Crise on South Owens Court in South Jeffco. Surveillance video from across the street, which was played in court, showed Stewart pull up to the house and joining Crise and Lemarinel in the garage.

The video footage showed the garage door closed, and less than hour later, Lemarinel was seen dragging Stewart’s body into the driveway. After struggling to maneuver Stewart into the Explorer, Crise came out to help.

Lemarinel drove away and returned on foot approximately 10 minutes later as Crise was seen washing off his driveway, according to the video.

Hours later, neighbors became suspicious when an unfamiliar vehicle parked in the 11300 block of West Maplewood Drive, less than a mile from Crise’s home, didn’t move for several hours. A neighbor, who testified in court, called the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office after noticing an apparently unconscious person inside the vehicle.

Deputies arrived on scene, confirmed the person was dead and later identified him as Stewart.

Days later, Lemarinel was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder in connection with Stewart’s death. He had previously been arrested on unrelated drug and illegal weapons possessions charges, and remained in police custody until being arrested on the first-degree murder charge.

At the time of Lemarinel’s arrest, another arrest warrant was issued for Crise. He was apprehended nearly two weeks later by the Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.