Rankin man pleads guilty to 2017 murder of his niece | TribLIVE.com

Rankin man pleads guilty to 2017 murder of his niece

Megan Guza

A Rankin man pleaded guilty Monday to the 2017 murder of his niece.

Kalvin Stewart left 29-year-old India Stewart’s body near an abandoned Braddock garage and then set fire to his Jeep on Pittsburgh’s North Side to hide the evidence.

Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas Flaherty sentenced Stewart to 15 to 38 years in prison in exchange for his plea of third-degree murder, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

India Stewart was found dead just outside a garage near the intersection of Yew and Maple ways in Braddock shortly before 9 a.m. Jan. 14, 2017, authorities wrote in the initial criminal complaint. A witness told investigators that the woman had begun walking to the Edgewood Towne Center about 6:26 a.m. for her 7 a.m. shift at Taco Bell. She never arrived.

That same witness said the victim confided that she had a “crazy ex-boyfriend” from Rankin who was married and had a gray Jeep, according to the complaint. She said he’d assaulted her several months prior, and she had a protection from abuse order against him.

A car fire was reported on Pittsburgh’s North Side shortly before 8 a.m. on the day India Stewart was found dead, police said. It was registered to Kalvin Stewart and his wife. Blood was found on the center console.

Surveillance footage reviewed by police showed a gray Jeep Compass slowly driving on Towne Center Drive about 6:35 a.m. on the morning of India Stewart’s murder, police said. Other footage showed a gray Jeep speeding westbound on Braddock Avenue about 7:10 a.m. – away from the area in which the woman’s body would be found about 90 minutes later.

Investigators found that India Stewart lived briefly with her uncle and his wife in 2016, and police had responded to their address in October of that year to find the woman with a bruised face. Kalvin Stewart was charged with assault, and the charges were later dropped, according to police.

Kalvin Stewart told investigators he’d left his Jeep running that morning to “warm it up,” but he did not discover it was missing until more than an hour later when Pittsburgh police called to report the car fire, according to police.

Kalvin Stewart, 50, also pleaded guilty to arson, tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse and a firearm violation.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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