Local News

Defense rests in nursing home rampage trial

Posted August 26, 2011 4:29 p.m. EDT
Updated August 26, 2011 5:43 p.m. EDT

— After three days of testimony, the defense rested Friday in the trial of a man accused of opening fire inside a Carthage nursing home two years ago.

Robert Stewart is charged with gunning down seven patients and a nurse in the March 29, 2009, shootings at Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center. He could be sentenced to death if convicted.

Stewart told Superior Court Judge James Webb on Friday that he didn't want to testify in his defense.

Prosecutors have argued that Stewart went to Pinelake, where his then-wife, Wanda Neal, worked, to track her down and that he was so heavily armed that nothing was going to stop him.

Defense attorney Jonathan Megerian has maintained that Stewart doesn't recall what happened the day of the shootings and can't be held legally responsible. He told jurors that Stewart was taking several medications and overdosed on the sleep aid Ambien the night before the shootings – a blood test taken hours later showed he had 12 times the normal dose in his system – putting him in a hypnotic state that left him powerless over his actions.

Prosecutors called one rebuttal witness late Friday and said they planned to present more rebuttal testimony on Monday.