Aug 11

Witness recalls rampage as Stewart trial continues

As the trial of the trial of Confessed Mass-Murderer Robert Stewart moves relentlessly on, the fear the hulking brute inspired in his victims is palpable in the Carthage Courtroom two years later. Nursing Assistant Pamela Johnson, weeping softly, told jurors how she and others rushed down hallways, pushing people into rooms for protection. “He was getting closer, closer and lcoser, until he was right on us,” she said. Wilean Fletcher told jurors yesterday “It was the most scariest day of my life.” Fletcher, a former nursing assistant at Pinelake Health And Rehabilitation Center outside Carthage, testified that she heard a commotion but didn’t hear the announcement clearly. A few minutes later, Fletcher said, she was in a hallway with Male Nurse Jerry Avant when Stewart appeared with a shotgun aimed directly at them. She said ran to the laundry room to hide, while Avant headed toward Pinelake’s back entrance.” I was hiding behind the washing machine when I heard a gunshot. It seemed like forever.” But for Nursing Assistant Fletcher the worst was yet to come. When the all-clear sounded and hse emerged from hiding Fletcher was confronted with a horrific scene. “I saw a resident sitting there with a bullet hole in her chest. I went down the 200 hall and there were more dead residents and I broke down.” Fletcher said she saw Wanda Stewart who, she said was “crying hysterically.” She said she believed that was her husband. She said “That’s him, That’s him.” Stewart’s estranged wife, Wanda, worked at Pinelake but took refuge in the locked Alzheimer’s Unit and unlike the eight who died, escaped the bloodbath unharmed.
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