Local/State

Stewart's defense team wants wife's medical records

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wanda Stewart, the estranged wife of Robert Stewart, was expected to take the stand this week, but did not because she was just released from the hospital following a suicide attempt.

Wanda Neal was released from the hospital Tuesday evening after a suicide attempt on July 31 -- the day before the trial began.

On Thursday, both the prosecution and defense in Stewart's murder trial agreed on a court order to allow the release of Neal's medical records.

Prosecutors say Neal was willing and able to testify. They say Stewart intended to kill his wife, who worked at the Pinelake Health and Rehab Center, on March 29, 2009, but instead took out anyone in his path - a total of eight people died that day.

The defense wants to review Neal's medical records to make sure she's fit to take the stand. Now that the order has been filed, it is unclear how long it will take to sort out.

In the meantime, the jury is hearing testimony from other witnesses.

On Thursday, forensic experts and agents with the State Bureau of Investigation who examined some of the evidence collected in case took the stand.

Wednesday jurors in the Robert Stewart murder trial were shown the gun that former Carthage Police Officer Justin Garner fired at Stewart, ending the rampage.

Last week while on the stand, Garner detailed the trail of death he came across inside the nursing home. He said he heard four consecutive gunshots in one hallway before confronting Stewart as he entered another hallway.

He said Stewart was reloading his shotgun when he ordered him to drop his weapon, then both men fired at each other simultaneously.

With pellet injuries to his leg, Officer Garner approached Stewart 0 who was shot in the chest - to handcuff him. He said Stewart kept repeating, "kill me, please just kill me."

The jury also spent some time Wednesday hearing more about the victim's deaths -- seven elderly residents, mostly slumped over in their wheelchairs, and a nurse.

Stewart's attorneys have said that he was prescribed a dangerous mix of too many sleeping pills and anti-depressants, he didn't know what he was doing and he doesn't remember the shooting.

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