Local News

Accused nursing home shooter said wife left him for 'last time'

Posted August 5, 2011
Updated August 9, 2011

— Four days before he allegedly went on a shooting rampage in a Carthage nursing home two years ago, Robert Kenneth Stewart told a friend his wife had left him for "the last time."

Stewart is charged with eight counts of murder in the March 29, 2009, shootings at Pinelake Health and Rehab that killed a nurse and seven patients and wounded three other people. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Cynthia Brewer, who lives next door to Stewart's former in-laws and has known him and his ex-wife, Wanda Neal, for years, testified Friday that Stewart called her late on the night of March 25, 2009, to ask a favor.

Neal had left him again, and he wanted her parents to go to his house to get her dog and cat, Brewer recalled.

The Stewarts had divorced previously but then remarried.

"He just wanted me to know how he felt about us and that this would be the last time that Wanda would ever leave him," Brewer recalled him saying on the phone. "'I want you to tell them this would be the last time.' He told me that several times."

She said she thought he just meant that the marriage was finally over.

Neal was working at Pinelake on the day of the shootings, and prosecutors have argued that he went there to track her down and was so heavily armed that nothing was going to stop him.

The shootings ended when a Carthage police officer shot Stewart in the shoulder.

Wanda Neal, Robert Stewart's ex-wife Accused nursing home shooter said wife left him for 'last time'

Sgt. Thomas Carpenter of the Pinehurst Police Department said he has known Neal for years and noted that her demeanor always changed whenever Stewart was around.

"When he was there, she was afraid to engage in conversation," Carpenter testified. "A lot of times, he was just standing there. He didn't have a lot to say."

Defense attorney Jonathan Megerian has said Stewart doesn't recall what happened the day of the shooting and can't be held legally responsible for his actions. Stewart overdosed on the sleep-aid Ambien the night before the shootings and also was taking anti-depressants at the time, Megerian said.

Several witnesses testified this week that Stewart was deliberate in his actions during the rampage, saying he took time to reload while walking the halls of Pinelake.

Rebecca Powell, an emergency room nurse at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, where Stewart was taken for treatment of his gunshot wound, testified Thursday that he appeared to be coherent but was suicidal.

Powell said Stewart told her he went looking for Neal at her workplace but that "everything went kind of foggy" and he didn't remember anything until he was surrounded by police.

Stewart told Powell that he took six "nerve pills" but that he couldn't remember the name of the medication, she said.

Lt. Jerry McDonald of the Pinehurst Police Department testified Friday that he spent eight hours with Stewart at the hospital and that Stewart was alert and responding quickly to all questions.

"He was cooperative. He didn't cry. He seemed to be as normal as anybody else," McDonald said.


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  • quaten Aug 5, 2011

    To the one whose comments have been deleted: Many of mine have been deleted too, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with them, except that they were the truth.

    -- "allegedly" deleted.

  • storchheim Aug 5, 2011

    RB, I get the same feeling about my comments.

  • quaten Aug 5, 2011

    @ gdaddy - Why does it say "allegedly went on a rampage" when it is not "alleged". He admitted doing it? Thats a poor reporting of the facts. The incident DID occur and he DID do it. Nothing is "alleged".

    Great Point - couldn't agree more. Perhaps nobody witnessed it, so it has to reported as "alleged". Perhaps the word "rampage" is in under investigation, so again it must be "alleged" until it is clear he was or was not on an actual rampage.

    Perhaps the victims have allegedly died from alleged gunshot wounds. The usage of alleged is allegedly overly used.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Aug 5, 2011

    laurenfedorov - "To the one whose comments have been deleted: Many of mine have been deleted too, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with them, except that they were the truth."

    And THEY say there's no censorship here.


  • laurenfedorov Aug 5, 2011

    To the one whose comments have been deleted: Many of mine have been deleted too, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with them, except that they were the truth.

  • laurenfedorov Aug 5, 2011

    Murder was in his heart, and murder is what he did. Be careful to guard the intents of the heart, as those will often turn into action.
    He made the effort to drive to the nursing home with the gun in tow and took it out of the back of his car. All these are actions that he chose to do.
    I believe he knew fully well where he was going and what he was going to do. He knew what he was doing during the time he was doing this also.
    The medicine made him do it is not a defense that I buy. That would be the same as saying the devil made him do it.

  • North Carolina Home Aug 5, 2011

    Is intellectual impairment a viable defense?

  • DaisyMae Aug 5, 2011

    His attorney says he overdosed on ambien and did not know what he was doing....hmmmmm....come on this is a lame excuse.....so I guess he did not realize he had a gun with him not to mention the phone call he made the night before he must have had a plan....oh but wait.....he didn't know what he was doing. Again, my tax dollars are being wasted on a poor excuse of a human being.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Aug 5, 2011

    Because the wonderful GOLO moderators have decided to delete my comments even though they break none of their PUBLISHED TERMS OF SERVICE, I will not waste my time further on this blog.

    They aren't moderators, they're censors, plain and simple.

    So why bother wasting my time posting carefully worded comments that fall in line with their PUBLISHED TERMS OF SERVICE if they're going to censor them to suit their own tastes anyway.

    Ya'all have a nice day!

  • warbirdlover Aug 5, 2011

    According what I read in the pilot.( Moore County Newspaper) Stewart was trying to lure is wife & in-laws over to his house days before, saying she need to get her dog & cat. I believe he was setting them up, to ambush them. Read the story. http://www.thepilot.com/news/2011/aug/05/stewart-odd-midnight-calls-pinelake/