Nursing home rampage trial resumes

Robert Stewart
August 24, 2011 1:58:45 PM PDT
Following two days of juror illnesses, the nursing home rampage trial resumed Tuesday.

Robert Stewart is on trial for killing eight people at the Pinelake Rehabilitation Center in Carthage on March 29, 2009.

His defense attorney Jonathan Megerian has said Stewart was sleep walking and didn't know what he was doing when he went the shooting spree. He said Stewart had taking at least a dozen doses of the sleeping aid Ambien and was "like a zombie."

Megerian did not waste any more time Wednesday getting testimony back on track. He called several witnesses to the stand that spoke with Stewart days before the shooting.

The defense's first witness was Horce Warwick, a pastor at a church in Aberdeen where Stewart and his family were members.

Warwick told jurors that Stewart had called him Thursday night before the shootings. He said the defendant seemed, as he put it, "Drunk as a skunk."

Warwick said Stewart used profanity as told him his barn had burned down, his wife had packed up everything and left him and he learned he had prostate cancer.

The pastor said Stewart asked him to pray for him. He did and hung up, but Stewart called back two more times. Warwick said he didn't answer those calls.

The defense also called Stewart's uncle, Harold Norris, to the stand. Norris said he talked with Stewart three weeks before the shootings.

He said Stewart was frantic and upset when he asked his uncle for help after he discovered his wife had left him.

Stewart said he wanted to pack up his belongings and move to the coast, but his uncle was unable to help.

Stewart called a second time about a week before the shootings and sounded calm and relaxed during the conversation, according to his uncle.

From Doris Drosser, who said she was married to Stewart for about a month in 1982. She lives in Idaho now but was in NC visiting relatives weeks before the shooting. The statement says Drosser went on two dates with Stewart and that Stewart wanted to visit her in Idaho but she said no.

Drosser claims Stewart planned to travel to Alaska and Mexico after he "'fixed up some loose ends.'"

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