RALEIGH — The man convicted of gunning down eight people at a North Carolina nursing home received a fair trial, the state Court of Appeals said Tuesday in a decision that also brushed aside the defendant’s claim that he shot a police officer in hopes the officer would kill him.
In a decision issued Tuesday, a three-judge panel said Robert Stewart received a fair trial in September 2011, when he was convicted of second-degree murder and other charges in the shooting at Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center in Carthage. A judge sentenced him to between roughly 141 and 177 years in prison for the shooting on March 29, 2009.
The appeal challenged Stewart’s conviction of intent to kill the police officer who shot him, Justin Garner. Instead, the appeal says that Stewart wanted Garner to kill him and that the trial court judge should have dismissed a charge of assault with intent to kill Garner. Stewart was seeking a new trial based on that claim.
As evidence, Stewart said he shot everyone else in the abdomen but Garner was shot by three shotgun pellets on a ricochet. He also said he told numerous officers to shoot or kill him.
The judges said they found sufficient evidence of “intent to kill” to support the charge.
Stewart’s appeal also challenged some testimony and the use of photographs of the crime scene.