Testimony begins in gruesome murder case

HOUSTON It was the first witness, Lindsay Steichen, who told the jury about the defendant, Timothy Shepherd's temper, testifying Shepherd was jealous and accused Steichen of trying to keep him from Stewart.

"That's not what I was doing at all," testified Steichen. "I was just trying to be a friend to her."

Steichen was one of several friends of the victim, Tynesha Stewart, who were called to testify Wednesday. All characterized Shepherd as a man who wanted control over Stewart. Yet under questioning by the defense, each said they never witnessed any violence by Shepherd.

However one childhood friend of Stewart testified, "She (Stewart) was a very private person and would only tell you what she wanted you to know."

"The man sitting right over there wanted to rid the world of Tynesha Stewart," said prosecutor Marie Primm to jurors Wednesday morning.

In opening statements, the prosecutor went further, saying Shepherd did not want Stewart to break up with him.

"He was mad because Tynesha was with somebody else ," said Primm. "Right before Spring Break, Tynesha expressed her fears to her roommate. She told Lindsey, 'I'm scared. I'm afraid'."

During spring break last year, Stewart was reported missing, her body never found. Yet some of her remains were found burned in BBQ pits at Shepherd's apartment.

"There are too many questions the state can't answer," defense attorney Chip Lewis said.

Lewis told the jury Shepherd is on trial for murder and what happened to Stewart after she died is, in this trial, irrelevant.

After jurors went home for the day Wednesday, one of Stewart's friend told the judge in the case that she saw a text message from Shepherd, threatening to kill Stewart. The trial continues Thursday, at which time the judge says she'll rule on whether or not to admit the text messages into evidence.

Shepherd could face life in prison if convicted. The trial is expected to take two weeks.

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