Three Men Face Trial in Killing of Swissvale Man and 7-Year-Old Son

Last year, three men were accused of killing a child and his father in Swissvale. Yesterday, the three men attended a preliminary hearing in the case.

Brandon Barnett, age 26, of East Pittsburgh, his brother, Jacqua Barnett, age 30, of Homestead, and Donavan L. Wilson, age 23, of Rankin will face a jury on homicide charges.

Charges of conspiracy to commit homicide were dismissed by District Judge Richard G. Opiela.

The three men allegedly killed Jo Lawrence Stewart and his father, Walter Stewart, on December 26, 2017, during a shootout. The Stewarts were from North Braddock.

One of the three men, Brandon Barnett, was critically wounded by a gunshot in the incident. Jacqua Barnett drove him to a hospital after the shooting, which investigators call a drug deal gone bad.

The night of the shooting, Mr. Stewart was found by police, dead in the doorway of a Columbia Avenue home. The boy was injured and lying atop his father. He was taken to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh UPMC, but was pronounced dead less than an hour later. Both were shot in the chest, according to the county medical examiner’s office.

A pair of witnesses cooperated with police. One witness told investigators that Wilson called to tell him to open both front and back doors of 1913 Columbia Avenue. Wilson told the witness to go upstairs after he had the doors open. A few minutes later, the witness heard someone else come in the front door and then a scuffle. He heard Wilson yell and several gunshots and then saw, from where he was on the second floor, a man he didn’t know, who turned out to be Mr. Stewart, lying in the doorway to the home. A .40-caliber Glock handgun was found at the front entrance to the home. It was registered to Brandon Barnett.

Wilson has had previous convictions for fleeing police and felony drug charges.

Brandon Barnett was facing a trial in January for receiving stolen property and escape.

Jacqua Barnett has also had previous convictions, for driving without a license, escape, resisting arrest, giving false identification to police, and endangering the welfare of children.

Mr. Stewart had a clean criminal record. He worked in a group home, caring for adults with disabilities. He was described as a dedicated caregiver and a doting father.

Jo Lawrence Stewart was in the first grade at Wilkins Primary School in the Woodland Hills School district. He was described as a smart, warm, and loving child.

If the Barnett brothers and Mr. Wilson are convicted, their sentence will depend upon many things, including their intent and if they were in the process of doing something illegal when the killing happened. There are three degrees of homicide in Pennsylvania, and the penalties range from two and one-half to five years in prison for involuntary manslaughter to life in prison without parole or death for first-degree homicide. Prosecutors will have a lot to prove to gain a conviction, and the men’s attorneys will need to use all the tools in their toolbox to gain a dismissal of the charges.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
“Mr. Logue came to me for my consultation, which was nice! He helped me better understand my situation so I could weigh my options. He kept me updated on any new information about my case, and I could always easily contact him if I had any questions. I knew I was in good hands, and I got the best possible outcome for my case!” Anonymous
★★★★★
“Sean Logue accomplished an incredible thing for me by handling my legal matters. If you need help, this is the man to represent you...he's very keen, knowledgeable, and efficient in guiding you to freedom. The trust and loyalty he gives you is very down to earth, so if you need a lawyer this is the best one. You can feel totally confident in Sean's hands. Excellent job, thank you for taking the time for me, you took all my worries away...God bless your future.” Anonymous
★★★★★
“Mr Logue was the one I hired after talking to other attorneys about my case. He was the most knowledgeable and explained everything to me about his plan for me moving forward. He was always available to answer my questions and fought hard for me!! Don't waste your time looking for anyone else to help you. Mr Logue did an amazing job and very professional!” Anonymous
★★★★★
“Atty. Logue represented me well and took care of my legal issues superbly. He is a no-nonsense, very knowledgeable and well respected lawyer. I was pleased with his services. Would definitely recommend Atty. Logue to others.” Anonymous
★★★★★
“Mr. Logue is good for one reason, he cares. A client is not a quick buck. He always answers his phone, day or night and he understands the law better than anyone. He always answers my calls for both corporate and personal legal decisions and I have a ton of questions. His rates are reasonable too. Fair and firm.” Anonymous