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Pregnant teen opts for prison over testimony

Brianna Stewart's choice came down to this: testify against her boyfriend under a grant of immunity or spend at least six months in prison.

Brianna Stewart's choice came down to this: testify against her boyfriend under a grant of immunity or spend at least six months in prison.

Prison won, though it means that Stewart, 18 and eight months pregnant, will deliver her baby in prison.

"I can't do this. This is stressing me out," Stewart told Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Teresa Carr Deni on Tuesday. "I'm eight months pregnant. This is not my situation to be in."

Deni cited Stewart for contempt of court and sentenced her to six months in jail for refusing to testify after she was granted immunity from prosecution by the District Attorney's Office.

Assistant District Attorney Mark Levenberg said Stewart was a witness to the July 13 slaying of a Montgomery County man in West Oak Lane - allegedly committed by her boyfriend, Elijah Maddox, 19, and 18-year-old Samantha Angelo.

Tuesday was the preliminary hearing for Maddox and Angelo, charged with murder, robbery, carjacking and criminal conspiracy in the death of Frederic Schmid, 46, of Lederach. Police said Schmid was found shot in the head in the rear parking lot of an apartment complex in the 1400 block of 71st Avenue about 7:15 a.m. July 14.

Levenberg said Stewart gave detectives two written statements on July 22, a third on July 23, and then a video-recorded statement.

But on the witness stand, Stewart did not get much further than identifying Maddox as her "baby father" and Angelo as someone she knew from the neighborhood.

Stewart testified that on the afternoon of July 13, she and Angelo were at Maddox's house watching movies until he came home from work about 3 p.m.

"And then what happened?" Levenberg asked.

"I don't understand your question," Stewart replied.

Levenberg tried again a few more times before Deni warned Stewart, "Don't play games."

The hearing then recessed for a half-hour so Stewart's lawyer, Jonathan Sobel, could talk to her about the implications of refusing to testify after she had been offered immunity.

When the hearing resumed, Stewart still refused to answer questions, even when Levenberg reminded her she would go to jail if she did not.

"Why?" Stewart asked.

"Because that's the law," replied Levenberg.

Maddox's attorney, Stephen P. Patrizio, and Angelo's attorney, Gregory J. Pagano, both objected to Levenberg's continued questioning of Stewart.

"Can I go now?" Stewart asked.

"You're not going anywhere," said Deni, who then imposed the six-month jail term for contempt. That sentence can be extended by the judge until Stewart agrees to testify. Stewart also has a pending, unrelated robbery case.

As for Maddox and Angelo's preliminary hearing, it was rescheduled for next Wednesday.