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Trial nears for accused gunman in nursing home massacre

Posted July 10, 2011
Updated July 11, 2011

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— The daughter of a woman killed during a shooting rampage inside a Carthage nursing home more than two years ago is reliving the nightmare Sunday, on the eve of jury selection in the trial of the alleged gunman. 

Authorities say Robert Kenneth Stewart shot and killed eight people and wounded three others, including a police officer, at Pinelake Health and Rehab on March 29, 2009. Stewart's estranged wife, Wanda Stewart, worked at the facility as a nursing assistant. She told WRAL News that she thinks he was gunning for her because she had left him weeks before the shooting.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Louise DeKler, 98, was the first person shot in the spree, which ultimately killed seven patients and a nurse. Her daughter, Barbara Pennypacker, said she is hoping for the death penalty.

"It's just not fair that he should live and these eight people are dead," she said. "It's just not fair."

She remembers vividly the moment she found out about the shootings. She was on her way to the home, where she said she visited her mother daily, and stopped at a nearby store.

"The cashier got a phone call and she said, 'Oh my God,' and she hung up," Pennypacker recalled. "I said, 'What happened?' (and) she said, 'There has been a shooting at Pinelake.'"

Pinelake Health & Rehab Trial nears for accused gunman in nursing home massacre

Pennypacker said her mother was the first victim because she was waiting for her daughter near the entrance to the home.

"She was right in the hallway waiting for me," she said.

A Carthage police officer, Justin Garner, ended the rampage when he shot Stewart in the chest.

About 750 citizens from Stanly County have been summoned to appear at the courthouse in Albemarle on Monday for jury selection, which could take up to four weeks. Superior Court Judge James Webb ruled that potential jurors would come from Stanly and not Moore County because of the extensive coverage the shootings received.

The trial itself will be held in Moore County.

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  • Doctor Dataclerk Jul 11, 2011

    Anyone who shoots a 98 year old in a nursing home should be a human blast shield for a space shuttle launch.

  • pat7 Jul 11, 2011

    I wonder why WRAL wont post Get the victims family this of the punishment. Death penlty is my choice

  • ICTrue Jul 11, 2011

    "Likely a public defender doing his job as required by the US Constitution." haggis basher

    Yes, I was being facetious. I would rather be out roofing a house in the heat tomorrow than have to sit next to this guy and defend him. I do put lawyers at about the same social status as crnival geeks though.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Jul 11, 2011

    Praying the prosecutors have everything they need to fry this guy.

    He went into that place to kill his wife, then not finding her, shot everyone along the way like a spoiled child who wasn't getting what he wanted.

    Praying for those he harmed and for those who loved them, and thanking God for the officer who finally took him down, wish his aim had been better.

  • haggis basher Jul 11, 2011

    "Absolutely tragic. To be gunned down in the golden years of your life."

    Less tragic than a lot of other shootings.......I'd rather have a full life and go out quick like that than have something similar happen to my kids or grand kids.

  • haggis basher Jul 11, 2011

    "I would like to know, from under what rock is some sleazy lawyer going to crawl to defend this guy? What a waste of time, money and oxygen this guy is."

    Likely a public defender doing his job as required by the US Constitution.

  • haggis basher Jul 11, 2011

    His only chance is an insanity plea.......other than that this should be an easier trial than some others recently where evidence was thin on the ground.

  • briandenoo Jul 11, 2011

    I wonder how long this case will take and how much money will be spent on it. Just sentence him and call it a day.

  • righthere1234 Jul 11, 2011

    "I would like to know, from under what rock is some sleazy lawyer going to crawl to defend this guy? What a waste of time, money and oxygen this guy is."
    smbiz

    I've wondered the same thing about many lawyers.

  • diana123 Jul 11, 2011

    he does not need a last meal.

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