He often told her that she was "fat," "stupid" and "couldn't do anything right," she said. Sometimes, he said that he would kill the children if she didn't "do what she was told."
Samantha Stewart, the other daughter, said that her father once chased her down in a car and tried to run her over. Her mother told her to run to a friend's house whenever he was in one of his abusive "moods," she said.
Both daughters said they did not approve of what their mother did to their father.
West Virginia University psychiatric expert Christi Cooper-Lehki testified Tuesday that Stewart suffered from battered women's syndrome and exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by the years of abuse from her husband, whom she has been with since she was 14.
"She can still smell Sammy," Cooper-Lehki said. "She can still feel his touch on her."
Cooper-Lehki said that Stewart slipped into a psychotic episode in the minutes before she shot her husband and didn't have the faculties at the time to parse right from wrong.
She also penned a "legitimate" suicide note beforehand, indicating that she was sincere in her claim that she intended to kill herself in front of Sammy, Cooper-Lehki said.
Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants pointed out that in the 53 minutes it took Stewart to drive back and forth from the hospital, she obeyed all of the traffic laws, parked perfectly in the hospital's lot, and slipped a gun in her purse, all suggesting that she had the capacity to understand what she was doing at the time.
Cooper-Lehki said that it is common for people to conform to societal rules during a psychotic episode, and that her husband touching her elbow while she was leaning over him triggered a reaction she could not control.
"I don't think she appreciated right from wrong while she was in front of him," she said.
Stewart's daughters both asked the judge to levy a home-confinement term.
"She has been in prison her entire life," Mickey Stewart said. "Sending her to prison is not the answer here. My dad's dead. He's not coming back."
As part of the plea, prosecutors agreed to stand silent during sentencing. Plants said after the hearing that he would not comment on whether he felt home confinement was appropriate for someone convicted of murder.
Plants said that members on both Rhonda Stewart's side and her husband's side of the family supported both the sentence and the plea.
Reach Zac Taylor at zachary.tay...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.