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Thu July 14, 2011
Evidence Presented to Potential Jurors in Nursing Home Killings Case
Defense attorneys have decided to present evidence during jury selection in the murder trial of Robert Stewart. He's accused of shooting and killing eight people two years ago at the Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center in Moore County. Stewart's attorneys say he was under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs at the time and is not legally responsible for his actions. Defense lawyers are showing potential jurors graphic images of the shootings and Stewart admitted this week during jury selection he killed the victims. UNC-Chapel Hill law professor Tamar Birckhead says though the strategy sounds unusual, the defense may be trying to steer charges away from first-degree murder to avoid the death penalty.
Tamar Birckhead: "I would think that they might want to put it out there as early as jury selection in order to gauge the level of comfort or discomfort of potential jurors with their defense. They want to be able to lessen the blow. "
Jury selection continues today in Stanly County. A judge moved those proceedings away from Moore County due to the case's widespread publicity.