Lawyer: Man Held Unfairly As Case Built
Suspect Charged With Murder In N.H. Jail on Violation Since June
Concord — While Shawn Carter was charged Tuesday with murdering his mother and brother in Belmont nearly two months ago, court documents show prosecutors filed an arrest affidavit in the case June 12.
Carter, 31, has been incarcerated on a driving offense since hours after his relatives were found dead — police say from multiple chop wounds — May 24 inside the Sunset Drive home they all shared. Yesterday at Carter’s arraignment on the murder charges, his lawyer said Carter had been left to languish in jail on $200 cash bail while being given no information about the case prosecutors were clearly building against him.
But Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Strelzin said the driving offense is separate from the homicide investigation, and Carter has been incarcerated because “he killed the two people who could post bail for him.”
“That’s not the state’s issue,” Strelzin said during the hearing in Franklin’s district court, which Carter attended by video feed from the Belknap County jail.
A judge Wednesday ordered that Carter be held without bail. He’s facing four counts of second-degree murder that account for the prosecution’s two theories of what his mental state was at the time of the murders: either knowing or reckless. The charges indicate that the police don’t believe the crime was premeditated.
Affidavits filed for arrest and search warrants are sealed from public view. According to the charges, 59-year-old Priscilla Carter died from chop wounds to her head and blunt impact to her “trunk.” Tim Carter, 39, died from chop wounds to his head, torso and extremities, according to the charges.
Strelzin said yesterday that officials responded to Sunset Drive on May 24 when Priscilla Carter did not arrive at work and one of her co-workers called the police. Shortly after the bodies were found, a “be on the lookout” alert was issued for Carter, warning he could be armed and dangerous. He was stopped in Tilton a few hours later and has been held at the county jail since on a charge of driving without a valid license.
Jesse Friedman, the lawyer appointed to represent him on that charge and now also on the murder charges, suggested at a June 11 hearing that prosecutors were finding creative mechanisms to keep Carter incarcerated while the attorney general’s office continued investigating his relatives’ deaths. At that hearing last month, the state police also charged Carter with selling drugs to a state trooper more than a year before.
Friedman then and again yesterday told Judge Edward Gordon that Carter has been given no information about why the police issued the initial “be on the lookout” alert for him, even though it was the impetus for the traffic stop that led to him being charged with operating on an invalid license.
Affidavits in the murder case are sealed not only from public view but also from Friedman. Yesterday, the attorney called the treatment unconstitutional and pointed out that prosecutors applied for those warrants a month ago.
“There may have been an arrest warrant in place all of this time,” Friedman said. “Which means that all of the time that has gone on since June 12, my client has been sitting on the other charges when the state clearly has had information in relation to these new charges today.”
Friedman filed a motion to gain access to those affidavits yesterday. And he argued that Strelzin shouldn’t get the standard 10 days to file a written response because his motion should be considered as an objection to Strelzin’s June 12 request to seal the documents. Gordon sided with Strelzin and gave him 10 days to respond in court.
Friedman also requested that the judge dismiss the driving and drug charges against Carter, which are scheduled for hearings in Franklin’s district court tomorrow. Gordon said he’d deal with those issues then.
A probable cause hearing, where a judge will decide if there is enough evidence for the homicide case to be given to a Belknap County grand jury, will be held July 22.
Carter didn’t speak at yesterday’s hearing and no one spoke to him. On a screen at the right of the courtroom, he was seen occasionally shifting or stretching but mostly standing still and staring forward during the brief hearing.
Friends of the Carter family have expressed relief since the youngest brother was charged Tuesday. Several people close to the family said Carter had worried them with unpredictable behavior in recent months that they believed was fueled by his heavy drug use over the past few years.
The family moved into the lakefront rental property only a month before the homicides, according to friends. In mid-May a marina located next to the home took out a no-trespassing order against Carter after he repeatedly wandered onto their property, talking nonsensically and asking for a man who didn’t work there.
Carter has a limited criminal history. According to court documents, he was charged in 2010 with simple assault and obstructing the report of a rime or injury after the police said he slapped a woman, pushed her on the ground and then took her cell phone when she attempted to call the police. Under a negotiated plea deal, he was given a sentence of 90 days in the county jail suspended pending a year of good behavior.
In 2011 he was charged with assaulting the same woman but court documents show that case was dismissed.