published Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Changing stories led to Keith Stewart's arrest

A 19-year-old Soddy-Daisy man gave police at least five versions of what he knew about the robbery and shooting death of Casey Burgiss, which has investigators keeping the case open even after his arrest.

Soddy-Daisy Municipal Court Judge Marty Lasley sent a criminal homicide charge against Keith Stewart in Burgiss' death to the Hamilton County grand jury Tuesday night.

The judge kept the $750,000 bond he originally set even though prosecutor Cameron Williams asked that it be raised and defense attorney Brandon Raulston requested it lowered.

Police first questioned Stewart in early August about Burgiss' July disappearance. Stewart said he'd last seen Burgiss get into a car with three black males and ride away.

When interviewed a second time on Oct. 15, Stewart told police the three black males drove him and Burgiss to Chattanooga and shot Burgiss in a parking lot.

He then said that he was paid $240 to help the three black males take Burgiss to a cave on Montlake Mountain known as "Devil's Pocket" for a planned robbery during which the 24-year-old was shot.

He last told police, after helping them locate Burgiss' body, that he, Jason Doss and Lebron Lewis robbed Burgiss at the cave and that Lewis "flipped out" and shot Burgiss. Stewart changed that story, too, saying that it was Doss who shot Burgiss.

What he said that led police to charge him with criminal homicide were details later corroborated by evidence -- that three shots were fired, (Police found three shell casings at the scene.) that Burgiss was shot in the head (A medical examiner's report showed two gunshot wounds to his head.) and that a .25-caliber chrome handgun was used. (A .25-caliber handgun was found in a lockbox in Stewart's parents' bedroom.)

Police have interviewed Doss and Lewis and neither admitted any involvement and neither has been arrested.

Investigators say Stewart, on Oct. 15, led them to the cave where they found the mummified body of Burgiss.

Forensic experts identified Burgiss by a tattoo on his left forearm and dental X-rays.

Stewart remains in custody at the Hamilton County Jail.

Contact staff writer Todd South at 423-757-6347 or tsouth@timesfreepress.com.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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