Local News

State will seek death penalty in nursing home massacre

Posted May 28, 2009 4:02 a.m. EDT
Updated May 28, 2009 7:23 p.m. EDT

— The state will seek the death penalty against Robert Kenneth Stewart, who is accused of killing eight people at a Moore County nursing home in March.

Stewart, 45, is charged with eight counts of murder in the March 29 shooting at Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation in Carthage. Seven residents and a nurse were killed.

Moore County District Attorney Maureen Krueger said during a hearing Thursday that there were enough aggravating factors to warrant a capital case, including the fact that the crime occurred during the commission of a felony.

Authorities have not offered a motive for the slayings, but Stewart's estranged wife, Wanda Stewart, a Pinelake employee working that morning, said she believed Stewart was looking for her.

She was present for Thursday's hearing and sobbed as Stewart entered the courtroom.

Thursday was Robert Stewart's first time appearing before a judge. Carthage police officer Justin Garner shot him once in the chest, ending the rampage, and Stewart has been in the hospital at Central Prison in Raleigh recovering.

Krueger also filed a motion Thursday asking that the bullet, if removed from Stewart, be preserved as evidence. The defense had no objection.

No trial date has been set. An administrative hearing is scheduled for Sept. 10.