Robert Stewart earlier this week admitted in court that he shot and killed eight people in a North Carolina nursing home back in March 2009. Even though jury selection for the murder trial is still taking place, Stewart’s admission was part of his lawyers’ strategy to argue that he was not legally guilty for his actions because he was under the influence of alcohol and prescription meds at the time.
Local journalists asked a legal expert how that defense could work in court.
“Greensboro attorney Robert O'Hale with Clifford Clendenin & O'Hale, LLP said certain crimes such as first degree murder require the defendant to have specific intent to commit the crime,” WFMY News 2 reported. “It must be proven that the defendant killed the victim with malice.
“O'Hale said drugs and alcohol might inhibit a person's ability to form that specific intent after premeditation and deliberation.”
It was also revealed that Stewart’s lawyers will show jurors graphic photos of the seven elderly victims—who were aged 75 to 98—and nurse that were killed because “it will help them reach a fair decision,” the Associated Press reported.
Prosecutors say Stewart's intended target was his estranged wife, a nurse’s assistant at Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center in Carthage, who hid in a bathroom during the shooting. Stewart allegedly shot and wounded one man in the parking lot then entered the nursing home and opened fire.