Trial Begins in North Carolina Nursing Home Killings

in Homicide, on

Defense counsel and prosecutors have made their opening statements, and witnesses have testified this week. The man who shot ten people in a North Carolina nursing home has sat quietly as the jury has listened patiently and family members of the victims have watched intently. The defendant faces the death penalty on eight murder counts.

The defendant is arguing that personal turmoil had caused sleep issues and depression. His wife and stepdaughter had left. He had lost family treasures in a fire on his property.

His doctors had prescribed Ambien, which the defendant took in doses that far exceeded his doctor’s recommendation. A doctor prescribed antidepressants that are known to have serious side effects. When he talked to his doctor about his depression, he admitted he was concerned that he would hurt himself or someone else.

All of this, defense counsel said, made this man a “lethal sleepwalker.” He didn’t understand what he was doing, and he would not remember any of it.

Prosecutors laid out the facts of the case — facts that the defense does not dispute — and described the defendant as “a man on a mission.” He was in control, the prosecutor said, controlled enough to find his ex-wife’s car in the parking lot. He emptied two magazines from his rifle into that car.

He proceeded into the nursing home, and the only thing that stopped him was the door to the locked ward, where his ex-wife worked. And when confronted by a police officer, he kept shooting.

In the end, the defendant lay on the floor, handcuffed, pleading with the officer to finish him off.

The judge said it could be a month or longer before the case goes to the jury.

Source: News & Observer, “Nursing home killing suspect is blaming pills,” Tom Breen, Aug. 2, 2011