Prosecution rests in NC nursing home rampage trial

Robert Stewart
August 18, 2011 3:07:17 PM PDT
The prosecution has rested its case in the trial of Robert Stewart, who is accused in the shooting deaths of eight people at a Moore County nursing home.

Prosecutors on Thursday finished presenting their case after 13 days of testimony from police officers, medical experts, victims of the shooting and others. The prosecution says Stewart was looking for his wife, an employee at Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center in 2009, when he shot 11 people at the facility, killing all but three.

The trial is scheduled to resume on Monday, when defense attorneys begin calling witnesses. Defense lawyer Jonathan Megerian said this week he expects it will take about three days to present the case.

Stewart's lawyers say he was the gunman, but argue he wasn't legally responsible. They say Stewart had taken at least a dozen Ambien pills and anti-depressants and was essentially sleepwalking.

Also in court Thursday, a psychologist revealed to the jury what Robert Stewart told her about two months before his murder trial was set to begin.

While the psychologist from Central Regional Hospital is a witness for the state, Dr. Lavonne Fox backed some of the claims made by Stewart's attorneys.

Fox testified that during her testing of Stewart, he said, he believed he was being followed and said there are periods in which, "I've done things I don't remember doing."

Dr. Fox said there were elevated scores on the test, indicating the test may not be valid. She said she disregarded elevated levels of depression or other concerns, because she felt the test was invalid.

Prosecutors say Stewart went on the shooting spree in search of his wife, Wanda Neal, who had left him two weeks earlier.

In open court, but out of the presence of the jury, the prosecution played recordings of messages Robert Stewart left on Neal's pastor's answering machine.

"I was calling to tell you what a good Christian she is, she found out I got prostate cancer and she walked out," Stewart said on the message played in court.

Neal's son from a different marriage also took the stand Thursday out of the presence of the jury. He told the courtroom about an instance where he drove up to their house without his headlights on to see his mom and claims Stewart had a gun in his hand and warned that that's a good way to get shot.

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