State News

Stewart admits to shooting at Carthage nursing home

Posted July 13, 2011 6:47 a.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2011 7:41 a.m. EDT

— Lawyers for a man accused of killing eight people at a Carthage nursing home are focusing on a strategy of limited mental capacity as their client admits his role in the shootings.

Robert Kenneth Stewart said in open court Tuesday that he killed the victims at the Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center in Carthage on March 29, 2009.

Defense attorney Frank Wells said they wanted to present the information outside the presence of the jury so there wouldn't be a surprise when they started questioning potential jurors about it. 

Stewart's lawyers have said he was under the influence of alcohol and prescription medicine and is not legally responsible for his actions.

A total of 750 citizens in Stanly County have received summons for jury selection in the case. Superior Court Judge James Webb ruled that potential jurors would come from Stanly and not Moore County because of the extensive coverage the shootings received.

On Tuesday, Webb questioned Stewart about letting jurors know that he shot the victims. Stewart says he trusts his lawyers.

Authorities say Stewart shot and killed eight people and wounded three others, including a police officer, at Pinelake Health and Rehab. Stewart's estranged wife, Wanda Stewart, worked at the facility as a nursing assistant. She told WRAL News that she thinks he was gunning for her because she had left him weeks before the shooting.

A Carthage police officer, Justin Garner, ended the rampage when he shot Stewart in the chest.

The trial, which will be held in Moore County, is expected to last four to six weeks, Webb said. Jurors will be bused to Moore County each day.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.