CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A woman who admitted to walking into a hospital with a handgun and shooting her husband in the head will not serve her sentence in prison, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Kanawha County Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman sentenced Rhonda K. Stewart to a 10-year term on home confinement after she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges last month in the death of her husband, Sammy Stewart.
Stewart already has served four years in jail and prison, giving her credit toward the 10-year term.
Stewart was originally sentenced to life in prison for her conviction on first-degree murder charges, but the state Supreme Court overturned that verdict because the jury did not hear evidence that pointed to a history of psychologically devastating physical and verbal abuse that her husband levied on her over the years.
"I don't know what happened to me that day," Stewart said at her sentencing Tuesday. "I was out of my mind."
On June 13, 2009, she and her daughter visited Sammy Stewart, who was reportedly in treatment in CAMC Memorial Hospital for pancreatitis and alcohol withdrawal.
The Stewarts were separated at the time. When Sammy awoke, he told his wife and daughter to leave, referring to his wife by her maiden name, according to previous reports.
"My father looked at me and told me to get the hell out of the room," daughter Mickey Stewart testified Tuesday. "He was in a 'mood.'"
Rhonda Stewart left the hospital and returned about an hour later with a gun. Her lawyers have said that she was attempting to wake up her husband so he could watch her kill herself. Instead, he grabbed at her elbow and she panicked and shot him in the head.
During Tuesday's sentencing, Stewart's defense team called the woman's two daughters and a psychiatric expert to the stand to detail the abuse the woman suffered under her husband.
Mickey Stewart, the first to testify, said that her father routinely beat her mother and often turned his rage on his two daughters.
"When he was good, he could be very good," Mickey Stewart said. "When he was bad, there was hell to pay."
Rhonda Stewart routinely threw herself between her husband and her children to shield them from beatings. They referred to her as "our protector."
On one occasion, Sammy Stewart held a knife to his wife's throat and threatened to kill her if she did not comply with some demand, Mickey Stewart said.