Office of the DeKalb County District Attorney

Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit

Sherry Boston, District Attorney


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

State v. Royce Stewart

Decatur, Ga.- DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston announces a conviction by guilty plea in the case against a man accused of murdering two people inside a Decatur apartment. 

On Wednesday, Royce Stewart, 42, pleaded guilty to two counts of Murder, two counts of Felony Murder, three counts of Aggravated Assault, Theft by Taking and Possession of a Knife During Commission of a Felony.  The charges are in connection with the murders of Stewart’s niece, Shykia Ward, 14, and Stewart’s sister’s fiancé, Manuel Santos, 35, on March 25, 2018.

According to the investigation, Defendant Stewart had been staying at his sister’s unit at the Trinity Walk Apartments for about a week.  At around 9 a.m., Stewart’s sister was getting ready in her bathroom when she heard a struggle and saw her brother stabbing Santos in her bedroom.  Stewart’s sister tried to intervene and was cut.  She then dialed 911.

Defendant Stewart took his sister’s car keys and drove off in her silver Mustang. 

Stewart’s sister met the police and paramedics outside.  She noticed her daughter Shykia’s bedroom door was closed and thought the 14-year-old was hiding from the commotion. 

When police went inside the apartment, however, they found Shykia deceased in her bed with multiple stab wounds. 

Police tracked down and arrested Defendant Stewart the next day and he remained in custody.  Stewart had been deemed mentally incompetent to face trial until February of this year.

Immediately after the guilty plea, DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Tangela Barrie sentenced Defendant Stewart to Life plus 35 years. 

The case was prosecuted by Director of Major Crimes Lance Cross, with assistance from Assistant District Attorney Emily Donkervoet, District Attorney Investigator Sam Woolwine, and Supervising Victim Advocate Ikwo Nyong.  Decatur Police Department Sgt. Hensel led the initial investigation.