NC Death Penalty – 2011 Year in Review

January 5, 2012

Quick Facts

  • Executions: 0
  • Persons removed from death row for other reasons: 3
  • New death sentences: 3
  • Capital trials not resulting in death: 11

In Detail

  • Persons Removed from Death Row

> Isaac Stroud (Durham) – In February, Isaac Stroud was declared incompetent to be executed and re-sentenced to life.

> John Fleming (Northampton) – This fall, John Fleming died of natural causes at the age of 83.  Fleming was first sent to death row at the age of 70.

> David “Bo” Williams (Bertie) – David Williams died of natural causes at the age of 46.  He had been on death row since 1996.

  • New Death Sentences

> Tony Summers (Guilford) – Tony Summers was convicted of stabbing Lavell Williams and assaulting her two children.

> Danny Hembree (Gaston) – Danny Hembree was convicted of smothering Heather Catterton.

> William Robinson (Stanly) – William Robinson was convicted of shooting Keith Crump and injuring another man.

  • Capital Trials Not Resulting in Death

> Michael Mead (Gaston) – Michael Mead was found not guilty of killing his pregnant fiancée and setting her house on fire.  The defense presented evidence that Mead was 50 miles away when the crime occurred.

> Al Bellamy (Iredell/Gaston) – A mistrial was declared when it was revealed during the guilt-or-innocence phase of Al Bellamy’s trial that prosecutors failed to disclose over 1700 pages of evidence to the defense.  If the State elects to try Bellamy again, it will be prohibited from seeking the death penalty.

> Robert Stewart (Moore) – Robert Stewart was convicted of second-degree murder after opening fire in a nursing home and killing eight people.  The cumulative sentence was at least 141 years in prison.

> Brandon Gross (Buncombe) – Brandon Gross was convicted of second degree murder, robbery, and burglary for beating a man to death in his home.  He will serve at least 43 years in prison.

> Shelton Mills (Pitt) – Shelton Mills was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole after being convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend.

> Danny Thomas (Columbus) –Danny Thomas, previously convicted of murder in another county was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for four additional killings.

> Joshua Stepp (Wake) – Joshua Stepp was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the sexual assault and beating death of his ten month-old stepdaughter.

> Larry Robinson (Robeson) – Larry Robinson killed two men and injured a third in an ambush-style assault, and was sentenced to life without parole.

> Melba Slaydon (Randolph) – During jury selection, Melba Slaydon accepted a plea to life without parole in the killing of her husband.

> Dennis Mills (Alamance) – During jury selection, Dennis Mills accepted a plea to life without parole for shooting two men to death in their home.  Mills had previously been convicted of another homicide.

> James Richardson (Pitt) – After James Richardson was convicted of killing two men in a drive-by shooting, prosecutors dropped their request for the death penalty.

Follow-Up Stories on Stewart Verdict

September 7, 2011

One local writer answers the question, “Why Bother With a Trial, Anyway?”

Also: DA Satisfied with Stewart Sentence

And: Stewart Verdict Frees a Community to Heal

Stewart was convicted of eight counts of second-degree murder and will spend the rest of his life in prison.  Many expected that he would be sentenced to death.  The jury should be commended for having the strength to follow their conscience and the law in such a highly publicized case.

Stewart Convicted of Second-Degree Murder

September 3, 2011

Robert Stewart has been convicted of eight counts of second-degree murder.  He will not face the death penalty, but will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Stewart Jury to Hear Closing Arguments Thursday, Deliberate Friday

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.

Capital Trial Update 8-8-11

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.

Stewart Trial Begins in Moore County

July 11, 2011

Jury selection begins today in the Moore County trial of Robert Stewart.  Due to extensive pretrial publicity and strong community feelings, the jury is being selected from nearby Stanly County, but the trial itself will be held in Moore.  Prosecutors allege that Robert Kenneth Stewart, angry at his estranged wife, entered the nursing home where she worked and shot dead seven patients and a nurse.  The State is seeking the death penalty.

State Seeks Death for Robert Stewart

May 29, 2009

Moore County prosecutors have announced their intention to seek the death penalty for Robert Kenneth Stewart, who is accused of killing eight people in a nursing home this past March.


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