Stewart admits nursing home shooting

Robert Stewart
July 13, 2011 6:27:39 AM PDT
Lawyers intent on sparing Robert Stewart the death penalty will try to prove he had a limited mental capacity when he killed eight at a Carthage nursing home.

As part of that strategy, Stewart admitted in open court Tuesday that was the shooter who went on a killing spree March 29, 2009 at the Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center.

A jury is being selected in Stanly County because of publicity about the shooting in Moore County. Stewart's lawyers say he was under the influence of alcohol and prescription medicine and is not legally responsible for his actions.

Superior Court Judge James Webb questioned Stewart about letting jurors know that he shot the victims. Stewart said he trusts his lawyers.

Prosecutors say the 47-year-old shot seven elderly patients and a nurse at the home. Residents Tessie Garner, 75; Lillian Dunn, 89; Jesse Musser, 88; Bessie Hedrick, 78; John Goldston, 78; Margaret Johnson, 89; Louise DeKler, 98; and nurse Jerry Avant, 39; all died.

Stewart was eventually stopped by Carthage police officer Justin Garner who was wounded by shotgun pellets in the leg during an exchange of gunfire. Garner shot Stewart in the chest.

Prosecutors say Stewart came to the nursing home looking for his estranged wife Wanda Luck. She managed to hide in a bathroom in a locked area for Alzheimer's patients and was not injured in the attack.

Once a jury is selected in Ablemarle - about 60 miles west of Carthage - they will be bussed back and forth to their homes every day.

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