August 30, 2011
Robert Stewart told a medical professional that he was thinking about killing himself and others. He was sent home without treatment. Two days later, Stewart opened fire in a nursing home. He was suffering from severe mental illness and under the influence of medications including Ambien at the time of the shooting.
Soon a jury will decide whether Stewart was so incapacitated that he should be found guilty of a crime less than first-degree murder. Final arguments will be heard Thursday and the jury will start deliberations on Friday. The judge has ordered that the jury will continue deliberations on Saturday and even Monday if necessary, despite the Labor Day holiday.
Local reporting is here.
August 22, 2011
Opening arguments were heard this morning in the trial of Joshua Stepp, a former Army infantryman who is accused of killing his ten month-old stepdaughter. Prosecutors also allege that a sexual assault took place.
Stepp admits to causing the girl’s death, but asserts that he is not guilty of first-degree murder because he did not form the specific intent to kill and because no sexual assault occurred. [You can read North Carolina's definition of first-degree murder here.] Stepp intends to testify and present evidence of how substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder caused him to lose control.
August 10, 2011
DeathWatch extends a hearty welcome to the Forensic Science in North Carolina blog, which aims to “provide information about forensic science topics that are relevant to North Carolina attorneys.” (By DW’s reading, the blog also provides information that might be useful to non-attorneys and people outside of the Tarheel State.)
Of recent mention are matters related to the Duke lacrosse case, and recent developments in the ongoing SBI crime lab scandal.
August 8, 2011
There are two death penalty trials underway in North Carolina right now.
In Wake County, prosecutors are seeking capital punishment for Joshua Stepp, who is accused in the 2009 death of his stepdaughter. Although Stepp has acknowledged injuring the child, he asserts that his actions did not amount to first-degree murder.
In Moore County, jurors are hearing evidence in the trial of Robert Stewart. Stewart has admitted to a 2009 shooting that left eight people dead. However, Stewart asserts that his mental state at the time of the killings was such that he should not be convicted of first-degree murder.
August 1, 2011
2 – Manuel Valle (FL – stayed)
10 – Martin Robles (TX)
16 – Brett Hartman (OH – stayed)
16 – Bruce Ward (AR – stayed)
16 – Gary Haugen (OR – stayed)
18 – Jerry Jackson (VA)
18 – Larry Swearingen (TX)
23 – Randall Mays (TX – stayed)
30 – Ivan Cantu (TX – stayed)
31 – Edward Edwards (OH – died of natural causes)