He shot victims at nursing home
CARTHAGE, N.C. – Robert Stewart showed the same lack of emotion when a jury found him guilty of murder Saturday as witnesses say he displayed when he gunned down eight people at a North Carolina nursing home during one of the worst massacres in state history.
Stewart, 47, will not face the death penalty because jurors found him guilty of second-degree murder, meaning they believe he lacked the premeditation and deliberation necessary for a first-degree conviction. Instead, Moore County Superior Court Judge James Webb sentenced the disabled painter and National Guard veteran to between 128 and 160 years in prison.
“That man killed my mom like she was a roach,” said Linda Feola, whose mother, 98-year-old Louise DeKler, was shot at close range by Stewart at Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center in Carthage on March 29, 2009. “That man will not be where my mom is. There is no way. I’ve heard tell he was saved. Not in this world.”
Stewart, who plans to appeal the verdict, looked on without visible reaction as relatives of the victims voiced their grief and anger before the sentence was pronounced.
Stewart, who did not testify during the monthlong trial, was acquitted of two charges of attempted first-degree murder involving two victims who were wounded but not killed. He was convicted on multiple assault and firearms charges in addition to the eight murder charges.