Fla. Man Stabbed His Wife 13 Times, Then Placed Her Body in Trunk of Car After She Sought Divorce

Julie Ann Stewart, 42, filed for divorce in April 2018, two months before her husband, Gerard Stewart, told a neighbor that he'd killed her

julie ann stewart
Julie Ann Stewart. Photo: State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit

A Florida man aware of his wife's plan to divorce him and "take everything, including their son," stabbed her to death and then placed her body in the trunk of his car before telling a neighbor he'd done so, later surrendering to police after a standoff.

The man, Gerard Stewart, 49, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to killing 42-year-old Julie Ann Stewart, hours before he was scheduled to go on trial for her murder.

The incident on June 15, 2018, at the couple's Jacksonville home unfolded after Julie had filed for divorce two months earlier, in April 2018, reports First Coast News.

Stewart now faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced at a later date.

The couple had been married for 20 years when Julie told her husband she was leaving him, reports News4Jax.

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The neighbor who heard Stewart confess called the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the state attorney's office confirmed in a news release obtained by PEOPLE.

Officers arrived as Stewart was pulling his car out of the garage. He stopped the car and went back inside the house, launching a three-hour standoff with SWAT team members, reports The Jacksonville Times-Union.

gerard stewart
Gerard Stewart. Jacksonville Sheriffs Office

An arrest affidavit obtained by First Coast News alleged that Stewart subsequently downed a large number of pills in an effort to end his own life.

Officers were able to safely remove the couple's then 9-year-old boy from the home before his father emerged and was taken into custody, reports the Times-Union.

The state attorney's office says that after his arrest, Stewart "told officers he killed his wife by stabbing her two to three times, but an autopsy revealed 13 wounds, including her throat being cut."

"Stewart told officers his wife told him she was going to take everything, including their son, from him in their upcoming divorce," according to the state attorney's office. "He then told them that after killing his wife, he wrapped her inside trash bags secured with tape and placed her in the trunk of his vehicle. The investigation revealed text messages that showed Stewart knew of his wife's plans several days before the crime."

Stewart previously was tried for first-degree murder in the case, but jurors deadlocked while still finding him guilty of tampering with evidence in the death of his wife, reports News4Jax.

His guilty plea this week to second-degree murder came as his retrial was set to begin.

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