Swannanoa man sentenced in friend’s shooting death


Cameron Ellis McElrath (Courtesy: Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office)

BUNCOMBE Co., N.C. (WSPA) — A man will serve at least 20 years in prison for killing a friend before leading authorities on a chase across two counties in western North Carolina.

Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams said Cameron Ellis McElrath pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting of Robert Jacob Stewart. The victim was 23 years old when he was shot in the head in February 2018. 

Williams said McElrath had been friends with the victim and evidence suggests both men were using methamphetamine when the shooting occurred at a home in Swannanoa.

“Witnesses stated that the victim and McElrath had words before McElrath was seen to rack the shotgun and fire it at Stewart twice, once to the head,” Williams said in a news release. 

McElrath fled the scene of the shooting.

Buncombe County deputies previously said McElrath led officers on a chase on Interstate 40. The pursuit continued into McDowell County, Williams said, before McElrath was apprehended.

McElrath received a prison sentence on Monday. He will serve 240 to 300 months.

“Mr. Stewart’s family gave powerful statements of remembrance in court at sentencing. My sympathies are with them as they continue to remember and mourn the victim of this senseless act of gun violence,” Williams said.

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