Local News

Victims' families meet with district attorney

Posted March 31, 2009 4:10 p.m. EDT
Updated March 31, 2009 6:59 p.m. EDT

— Family members of the eight victims who died in Sunday's nursing home shooting met Tuesday with local prosecutors about the case.

A relative who did not want to be identified said the group talked about the possibility of the death penalty for the alleged gunman, Robert Kenneth Stewart, but did not elaborate on the details of the 90-minute meeting.



They also asked questions and received information about grief counseling, relatives said.

District Attorney Maureen Kreuger declined to comment about the meeting and had no further comment on the investigation. She has not indicated whether she plans to seek the death penalty against Stewart, who is charged with eight counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony assault on a law enforcement officer.

Carthage police say Stewart, 45, walked into Pinelake Health and Rehab around 10 a.m. Sunday morning and shot 13 people, including a police officer responding to 911 calls.

Several people inside the nursing home told 911 dispatchers he was shooting both a "deer gun" and a shotgun. Chief Chris McKenzie has said Stewart was armed with more than one weapon but has not provided the exact number or type of weapons.

Stewart is being held at Central Prison in Raleigh until a scheduled court date on April 13, the same day a Moore County grand jury meets.

Frank Wells, one of Stewart's court-appointed attorneys, said Tuesday he and his colleagues had yet to meet with their client for the first time. He declined to comment about the case.

Although authorities said they have not established a motive, investigators are looking at the possibility that the shootings could be domestic. Stewart's estranged wife, Wanda Stewart, works as a nurse's assistant at the facility.

Her mother said Tuesday she survived the shooting by hiding inside a locked area for Alzheimer's patients.

Authorities have identified the victims as Pinelake residents Tessie Garner, 75; Lillian Dunn, 89; Jesse Musser, 88; Bessie Hedrick, 78; John Goldston, 78; Margaret Johnson, 89; Louise De Kler, 98; and nurse Jerry Avant, 39.