Last updated: March 28. 2014 11:59AM - 2369 Views

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A man charged for the beating death of another man after an altercation that began at a bar had his first court appearance Thursday afternoon.


Raymond J. Stewart, 26, Durant, was arraigned on a charge of first-degree murder. He is accused of killing Steven Lee Sessums, 32, Mead, after an altercation that began Friday evening at a tavern in Durant and ended early Saturday morning at a Durant residence.


Authorities began investigating Monday when a passerby saw a body in Canella Creek off Old Highway 70 east of Durant. The victim remained unidentified until Wednesday when the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation identified him as Sessums, who died from blunt trauma to the head and neck.


A probable-cause affidavit by Bryan County District Attorney Investigator David Cathey states that on Tuesday, authorities questioned Destinee Delozier, identified as Stewart’s girlfriend, and she said she witnessed an altercation between Stewart and another man, who had not been identified at the time of the interview.


The affidavit states that a struggle occurred in her home in the 200 block of East Locust Street, and that the man who had been found in a creek became incapacitated.


Delozier made statements to investigators that indicated Stewart’s pickup was used to take the incapacitated man to the creek east of Durant, the affidavit states.


OSBI Agent Reanae Childers interviewed Stewart on Tuesday, and according to the affidavit, he admitted to the altercation with the unidentified man, and also driving him to the creek, where he pushed the body over the bridge.


The cause of the altercation was not revealed in the affidavit, however, OSBI previously said that it began at a Durant tavern.


Stewart has prior convictions for knowingly concealing stolen property and false declaration of ownership in pawn. He was sentenced to five years in prison on these charges in 2009. According to online Oklahoma Department of Corrections records, he was released from prison in November 2013.


Stewart, who remains jailed on $2 million bond, has his next court appearance set April 23.


A funeral service for Sessums will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at Victory Life Church in Durant.

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