FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - "I forgive you."
That's what 29-year-old convicted murderer Quentin Stewart wrote to Allen County Superior Court Judge Fran Gull after she handed him a 70-year sentence earlier this year.
He's now challenging his conviction and filed a notice of appeal on Jan. 29.
This is the beginning step in the appeals process, and at this point, there are few details about Stewart's appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court.
As part of the appeal, Stewart penned a jailhouse letter to Judge Gull, which was filed on Valentine's Day.
"A crime was committed Dec. 6, 2016, 'Just Not By Me!'" Stewart wrote.
"It shows I protected myself. But race canceled [sp] that claim and denied me life due to another person of [a] different race losing his life."
Stewart is black, and McCann was white.
He ended his letter with "Happy Valentine's Day."
Judge Gull sentenced Stewart to 70 years behind bars: 60 years for the murder charge and 10 years for the use of a firearm charge in the 2016 killing of Codi McCann.
Stewart was also ordered to pay $7,300 in restitution to pay for funeral expenses.
The judge gave him 418 days of jail credit.
The first time Stewart was tried, the case ended in a hung jury.
The second time around, Stewart was only charged with murder, and a gun charge was dropped.
The State maintained that Stewart intentionally murdered the victim while the defense maintained that Stewart acted in self-defense.
The Fort Wayne mother who helped create a victims’ advocacy group is hoping the jury will deliver a guilty verdict for her son’s alleged killer.
“It’s the culmination of all of my fighting. I’ve fought so hard to get to this day, so I just hope that the jury gets it right,” Stacey Davis says.
Her son, Codi McCann, was gunned down outside State Grill in December of 2016.
Police arrested 29-year-old Quentin Stewart last year, but Davis says his trial has been delayed three times because of changes in the public defender’s office.
It’s not having answers from authorities that prompted Davis and others to form the activist group Justice Accountability and Victims Advocacy or JAVA, which shares support and information among its members who’ve lost loved ones to crime.
You can read the full letter here: