- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2009

CARTHAGE, N.C. (AP) - A North Carolina grand jury leveled eight murder charges Monday against a man arrested after a deadly rampage that killed eight people at a nursing home last month.

The Moore County, N.C., panel indicted Robert Kenneth Stewart, 45, in the deaths of seven nursing home residents and a nurse at the Pinelake Health and Rehab Center in Carthage. The grand jury also indicted Stewart on a charge of attempted murder in the wounding of Carthage police officer Justin Garner, 25.

Stewart was also charged with assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a law enforcement officer.

Stewart was shot in the chest March 29 by Garner inside the nursing home. Garner was shot in the leg.

Attorneys for Stewart, who is being treated at a state prison hospital, said they expected the indictments. Defense lawyer Frank Wells said he had no other comment.

Stewart also was charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and discharging a weapon into occupied property for allegedly firing at another person outside the nursing home.

The grand jury also charged Stewart with two counts of assault by pointing a gun.

The indictments came the same day the first autopsy report from the shooting spree was released by the Office of the State Medical Examiner in Chapel Hill.

The autopsy report said Bessie Elizabeth Hedrick, 78, died from a shotgun wound to the abdomen.

Authorities identified the other victims of the shooting as Pinelake residents Tessie Garner, 75; Lillian Dunn, 89; Jesse Musser, 88; John Goldston, 78; Margaret Johnson, 89; Louise DeKler, 98; and nurse Jerry Avant, 39.

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