State News

Defense: Move accused nursing home shooter

Posted February 5, 2010 4:01 a.m. EST
Updated February 5, 2010 2:12 p.m. EST

— A defense attorney for the man accused of killing eight people at a Moore County nursing home wants the suspect housed at a state prison rather than the local jail.

Robert Kenneth Stewart, 46, was shot in the chest by Cpl. Justin Garner, 25, ending a shooting rampage at the Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center in Carthage on March 29, 2009. Seven patients and a nurse were killed.

Stewart was held at Central Prison, which has a medical center for inmates, for 9½ months while being treated for his wound. He was moved to the Moore County Jail two weeks ago.

Defense attorney Jonathan Megerian said that Stewart received better care and is safer at Central Prison.

A hearing on Megerian's motion that was scheduled for Friday in Moore County Superior Court was postponed. 

A spokesman for the Moore County Sheriff's Office said that there is no threat to Stewart inside the jail and that Stewart would be safe there. Holding Stewart in Raleigh would be more costly, because he would have to be transported back to Moore County for hearings.

The defense has also asked for the a change of venue for the trial, in which prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. A hearing on that motion is set for May 10.

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.