Stewart Faces 15 Counts in Rampage
The Moore County Grand Jury indicted Robert Kenneth Stewart Monday in the shooting deaths of seven elderly patients and a nurse at Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center in Carthage March 29.
In addition to eight counts of first-degree murder, the Grand Jury indicted Stewart in the attempted murder of Carthage Police Cpl. Justin Garner, who ended the bloody rampage with a single shot.
Garner shot Stewart in the upper chest in the hallway of the nursing center, but not before the gunman fired his shotgun. Three pellets from the blast struck Garner in his foot and leg.
Stewart was also indicted in the attempted murder of Michael Cotten, a visitor, as he sat in his Ford Ranger pickup in the parking lot.
Each separate murder indictment named one of the victims who died as Stewart allegedly roamed the halls of Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center shooting elderly men and women at will.
Those indictments say Stewart " unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did of malice aforethought kill and murder " Louise De Kler, Margaret Johnson, John Goldston, Lillian Dunn, Jesse Musser, Bessie Hedrick, Jerry Avant and Tessie Garner.
Avant was a nurse who worked at Pinelake. The others killed were patients at the facility.
Other indictments handed down by the Grand Jury included assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer, discharging a weapon into occupied property and two counts of assault by pointing a weapon at Ellery Chisholm and at Betty Sandy.
Stewart's indictment for the attempted murder of Garner says, "At the time of the offense, the officer was attempting to stop the defendant from shooting other individuals."
Interest in the case has been high, with television news trucks now a common sight in the county seat. Some expected Stewart to appear for a probable cause hearing Monday.
But Stewart, 45, was not in court. He is being held without bond at Central Prison in Raleigh.
District Attorney Maureen Krueger has not indicated whether she will seek the death penalty in this case. A trial is months away.
Based on information contained in search warrants and other supporting documents, Stewart claims that he does not remember the bloody rampage. He told an emergency room nurse "he had taken six nerve pills and he does not remember anything else," according to those documents
Two vials of blood drawn March 29 from Stewart are being tested for drugs, according to the warrants.
Sheriff's deputies obtained warrants to search Stewart's home and a vehicle he had driven to Pinelake.
Deputies searched Stewart's green-striped white double-wide mobile home at 2530 Glendon-Carthage Road and seized shotguns, pistols, rifles and ammunition as well as notes and notebooks.
An inventory shows nine weapons were taken, most of them heavy-gauge guns. Seized were .50-caliber black powder muzzleloaders, shotguns including a Traditions .50-caliber shotgun with scope, a 12-gauge semiautomatic Remington, a 12-gauge Browning over-and-under, and several pistols.
Another warrant resulted in the search and seizure of a Jeep Cherokee registered to Stewart's estranged wife, Wanda Gay Stewart. She was living with her mother, after fleeing from "a violent marriage" to Stewart.
She was working in the Alzheimer's wing at Pinelake the day of the shooting. It is behind a pass-code locked door. Robert Stewart had worked his way back to that part of the facility but was unable to enter because he did not know the pass code to get in.
A witness, Darlene Harris, told officers she saw Stewart in the parking lot at Pinelake getting out of a black vehicle, according to one affidavit. She told a deputy she watched Stewart get out on the driver's side, go around to the passenger side, open the passenger door, take out a gun and go into Pinelake.
A .22-caliber rifle was discovered on top of a black 1998 Jeep Cherokee in the Pinelake parking lot. Officers found a number of spent bullet casings on the ground around the car. The Cherokee was found to be registered to Stewart's wife.
The suspect had shot out the windows of a PT Cruiser that his estranged wife had driven to work that morning. The car was later taken to the home of Wanda Stewart's mother.
After a search warrant was issued for the Jeep, investigators found mail inside addressed to Stewart and seized more ammunition.
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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