Man who admitted killing 60-year-old came away from robbery with just $6

Published: May. 15, 2023 at 4:35 PM EDT
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KENTON COUNTY, Ky. (ENQUIRER/WXIX) - A Northern Kentucky man is facing the possibility of life in prison after he admitted in court to shooting and killing a man during a robbery in August of last year.

Zachary Holden Jr., 21, of Florence, pleaded guilty on Monday to murder and first-degree robbery in connection with the death of 60-year-old Virgil Stewart.

Stewart was walking home from his job at a dollar store when the shooting took place, according to the Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

Covington police found Stewart unconscious on the 15th Street viaduct over the railroad tracks between Madison Avenue and Russell Street, a criminal complaint states. He had suffered a single gunshot wound and was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he died.

After reviewing hours of security video from cameras near the scene, the complaint states, investigators discovered only one vehicle fled from the area after the murder.

Police were able to identify the driver as 31-year-old Latoya Dale and later identified Holden, who at the time was in a relationship with Dale’s cousin, as the shooter, the document says.

Dale is facing charges of complicity to murder and complicity to first-degree robbery, court records show.

In an interview with police, Dale said she and Holden were trying to set up drug deals on Facebook to rob the dealers once they met, adding Holden became frustrated when one of the dealers was a no-show and he decided to rob the first person to come along.

Dale told investigators Holden fired one shot at Stewart and that she fled back to the vehicle. Holden came away from the robbery with just $6.

Investigators used phone records to confirm Holden was in Covington at the time of the killing and that he returned to Florence not long after.

“It’s so stressful... I have seven kids,” Stewart’s daughter, Charlotte Stewart told FOX19 on Monday.

Charlotte says she has felt her father’s loss every day over the nine months since his death.

“I feel like I have to... have to learn this life by myself, when I’m not used to doing it by myself,” she said through tears. “He was, like, everything. That’s what we worked those three jobs for. He helped me pay my bills. He bought my kids everything. They were his world. He spent every dollar.”

Charlotte says she’s gratified at Holden’s confession but adds it won’t end her pain—or bring her father back.

“He was literally, like, the number one person in my life, and now he’s gone, and I go crazy,” she said.

Prosecutors are recommending Holden serve a sentence of life in prison on the murder charge and 20 years for the robbery charge. As part of his plea, prosecutors agreed to take the death penalty off the table and allow the possibility of parole.

Holden is next expected to appear in court before Kenton County Circuit Judge Kate Molloy for sentencing on July 17, according to the Enquirer.

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