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Christian sentenced to 10 years

BY REGINA ZILBERMINTS | OCTOBER 13, 2009 7:20 AM

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They spoke directly to the man who killed their son.

But Michael Steward’s parents didn’t ask for a harsh judgment or restitution at David Christian’s sentencing on Monday, in which the judge sentenced him to the maximum 10 years in prison.

Rather, they and other family members asked Christian to get help during his incarceration.

“We do not wish for punishment or revenge to be meted out to him,” Steward’s mother, Elsa Steward, said at the hearing. “Rather, we hope that … he will make full use of rehabilitation opportunities offered in the penal system and that he will emerge from his prison sentence determined to live a better life.”

Sixth District Judge Sean McPartland sentenced Christian, 30, to a maximum of 10 years in prison with credit for the year he has already spent in the Johnson County Jail. McPartland suspended the $1,000 fine, but Christian must pay $150,000 in restitution to Steward’s estate or legal heirs. He must also submit a DNA sample.

Christian earlier waived his right to appeal.

He had pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter on Sept. 25. Authorities originally charged him with second-degree murder in the death of his friend, Steward, 39, while the two were drinking alcohol and playing chess on Oct. 19, 2008.

Christian, dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, sat still as he listened to statements from four members of Steward’s family. Steward’s father spoke about the difficulties in his son’s life and how happy he was that his son had become close friends with Christian.

“I left his room encouraged by the knowledge that he had a friend who enjoyed Mike enough to provide companionship even in his rather uninviting diggings. Mike had experienced few friends of that quality,” Palmer Steward said.

Each member of Michael Steward’s family spoke about what they lost. But they also encouraged Christian to use his time in prison to improve his life.

“Of the two of you, you’ve been given a chance to live your life. Please make it worthwhile,” Steward’s sister, Heather Steward-Tharp, said Monday.

Christian also spoke at the hearing and apologized to Steward’s family.

“I think about Mike every day,” he said. “I do not ask forgiveness, only that you hear my apology.”


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