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Station owner: Teen bought gas day neighbor set afire

Oralandar Brand-Williams

Detroit — A gas station clerk identified 17-year-old George Stewart as the suspect who bought 50 cents’ worth of gasoline and a lighter the morning his elderly neighbor was killed and set ablaze.

Odai Al-Radabi said he remembers when Stewart came into his Sunoco near 8 Mile and Telegraph during a late night shift Nov. 23 with a big gas can.

“I saw this guy in the gas station,” Al-Radabi testified during the preliminary examination Monday for the teen accused of killing 91-year-old Paul Monchnik on the city’s west side. “He came out and bought the gas the same night” as the fire at Monchnik’s home.

The clerk told Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Latoya Willis that Stewart “looked nervous ... scared” when he came into the gas station. Al-Radabi picked Stewart out of a police lineup and also in court Monday.

Stewart is accused of beating, shooting and setting Monchnik afire Nov. 23 in his home in the 20500 block of Bentler. The teen has been charged with first-degree murder, felony murder and burning a dwelling.

Monchnik was burned on more than 80 percent of his body with his burns ranging from first to fourth degree, Assistant Wayne County Medical Examiner Dr. Kilak Kesha testified Monday. His said the injury to Monchnik’s head would alone be enough to kill the elderly man.

The autopsy report has not been completed because the Medical Examiner’s Office is waiting on the toxicology results to come back from a lab in Philadelphia. Kesha said the manner of death is homicide but he said the cause of death is still inconclusive citing an “unusual” liquid in Monchnik’s stomach which is being analyzed.

Monchnik had a depression on the top of his head which looked like lacerations.

The preliminary examination was adjourned after Kesha’s testimony and will continue at 11 a.m. Jan. 5 to give the toxicology lab more time to complete testing.

During the first day of the preliminary hearing Dec. 9, Stewart’s two great-aunts testified they identified him as the suspect in the surveillance video from the gas station at which Al-Radabi worked.

Denise Clanton and Diane Jones said during the hearing before 36th District Court Judge Kenneth King they recognized the suspect as their nephew.

“I was certain, very certain,” Clanton testified. She also said she told police she was sure it was Stewart.


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