NOTE: The blog below is rife with errors, all unintentional and the result of an attempt to get the important blog out before double checking on its accuracy. Because Shan Carter is currently incarcerated at Central Prison, communication is severely restricted to letter writing and weekly visits. In posting the blog below, I allowed my desire to get this most egregious legal system outcome before the public over waiting until it had been vetted by Shan for accuracy. One of the most blatantly false statements I made was that Kwada Temoney, Tyrone Baker, and Shan all started firing their weapons, when in fact Temoney was unarmed at that time, and Shan was the only one who fired. Another mistake had to do with dates… I stated that Shan was convicted of a capital case in the Baker/Green deaths in 1997, when, he was actually convicted in 2001. One final mistake towards the end of the blog was that I stated that the prosecution in the Brunson murder did not seek a death penalty conviction because the FBI lab was unable to link hair fiber evidence to Shan. That was incorrect, as the prosecution sought for a death penalty conviction for Shan Carter in Brunson’s death in a case without physical evidence, eyewitness evidence… Prosecutor John Sherrill sought a death penalty conviction in the Brunson murder based solely on hearsay testimony. For more a more accurate accounting on this story and errors made within this blog, go to the blog posted on December 3, 2010, titled: “Deadly 1997 confrontation between Shan Carter and Tyrone Baker.” - December 3, 2010
In 1997, the judicial system of North Carolina sentenced Shan (pronounced “Shawn”) Edward Carter to not one, but two death sentences. The year previously, in a third murder case, Carter was sentenced to a life sentence instead of death penalty number three, but only because the FBI was unable to match hair evidence from that murder case to him. The life term and capital convictions against Shan Carter would lead any reasonable person to believe that Shan is a monster of Charles Manson-esque proportions… however, that is truly not the case, as is indicated by even the most cursory examination of the facts in cases linked to Carter.
Mr. Carter, an African American male in his mid-thirties who is from a family not considered by most to be perched on the upper or middle rungs of our American societal class rankings, nicely fits into the state’s Class and Color scheme which defines him as being expendable according to North Carolina’s justice system. He is by no means a paragon of virtue and good citizenship, but by no means does he come close to being a cold blooded killer. In the mid-1990’s Shan was in his early twenties, and was a man whose drug habits involved marijuana and alcohol only. Shan dabbled in criminal acts, such as selling heroin, and committing burglary, often in conjunction with individuals of questionable character… common qualities of the company he kept in those days. And Shan did carry a gun on his person… not for use in the commission of crimes, rather for his own protection.
Why, you ask, would Shan Carter need protection? Because some drug dealers in the Wilmington area where he resided wanted to kill him. Why would drug dealers want to kill Mr. Carter? They targeted Carter because they believed that he had burglarized them (the drug dealers). Why would Carter burglarize the residences of drug dealers? Because that’s were the money and drugs were.
In November 1996, Shan, along with Kwada Temoney and Damont White burglarized the rental apartment of Tyrone Baker, a drug dealer from New York. At the time of the crime, Baker was unknown to Shan and Kwada, although Baker knew Damont White and had his confidence. In ransacking Baker’s apartment, the trio hit pay dirt when they came across forty thousand dollars ($40,000.00) stashed in a hiding place. Needless to say, Tyrone Baker was livid when he returned to find his apartment turned upside down, inside out, and his money missing. The first thing Baker did was to kidnap Lamont White, who he believed had a part in the burglary, and he then proceeded to pistol whip him into divulging the identities of White’s accomplices. Later, when Baker found Shan and Kwada Temoney near Tenth and Dawson Streets in Wilmington, Baker sucker punched Temoney sending him to the ground. All three men drew their guns, with Shan trying to aim low in an attempt to wound Baker in the leg. Temoney may have fired his weapon, as well. Shan ran after firing his weapon without knowing the outcome of his defensive response. Regardless, it wasn’t until news broadcasts aired much later that Shan learned that Demetrius Green, an eight year old boy was killed in the exchange of gunfire that took place on that corner. Carter had never seen the boy whose life was taken by a wayward bullet. It most certainly was not Carter’s intention to seek out the boy with the intent to take his life.
Weeks after the shootout involving Temoney and Carter, during the early hours of December 6, 1996, a masked Kwada Temoney, along with two others whose identities were shielded, broke into the home of Donald Brunson, a known drug dealer who was suspected of having a large amount of money hidden in his girlfriend’s home where he stayed. This home invasion of Brunson was carried out at approximately 3:00 am, according to Brunson’s girlfriend and a known victim/witness of the crime. Temoney pistol whipped Brunson in an attempt to get Brunson to give up the location of his financial cache. Brunson did not reveal the place where his money was hidden, but instead pleaded with his intruders, addressing Temoney by name. After Brunson recognized Temoney, he was taken from his girlfriend’s house by Temoney and his accomplices, and later turned up dead.
Although there was no forensic evidence or eyewitness testimony linking Shan Carter to the murder of Donald Brunson, Carter was charged as an accomplice in Brunson’s murder based solely on hearsay evidence by witnesses who lacked credibility. The prosecution made a plea deal (reminiscent of the kind made by Prosecutor Tom Ford in wrongly convicting Gregory Taylor) with Kwada Temoney which spared Temoney from the death penalty in exchange for Temoney giving testimony to implicate Shan Carter for being involved in the home invasion and the taking of Brunson’s life. Prosecutors also changed their narrative of the Donald Brunson murder stating that only two home invaders (Temoney and Shan Carter) were involved, instead of three as initially described by the victim/witness shortly after the crime took place.
In February 2, 2000, criminal defense attorney Richard Miller was appointed by the court to represent Shan Carter in the Brunson case after his predecessor William Bonney recused himself the previous month due to an apparent conflict of interest. Trial in the case against Carter was set to begin May 1, 2000, approximately three months after Miller was assigned. After accepting the case, and upon immediately noticing the lack of preparation by Carter’s former attorney, Miller, in March 2000, filed a motion asked Judge Hockenberry for a continuance for the beginning of the trial based on the following: 1) the defense had not been adequately prepared by his predecessor; 2) there had been little to no investigation done by the defense; 3) the prosecution had not turned over all discovery to the defense, and was slow to turn over discovery; and 4) Kenneth Hatcher, the attorney who had assisted Bonney initially, had no experience in handling defense in a capital case. Despite expressing to Judge Hockenberry his inability to adequately prepare to represent Carter by the trial date, the judge denied Miller’s motion to continue Carter’s trial.
During Carter’s 2000 trial for the murder of Donald Brunson, prosecutors made frequent references to the shootout involving Carter, Tyrone Baker, Kwada Temoney, during which Baker and eight year-old Demetrius Green were killed (even though the trial against Carter in this case had not yet been held and he had not been convicted of crimes in that case). Carter’s prosecutors sought help from the Federal Bureau of Investigations lab in an attempt to link Carter to the Brunson murder through mitochondrial DNA of hair specimens collected from two ski masks and a toboggan cap discovered abandoned in the victim’s car used in his kidnapping. If a physical link could be established between evidence collected and Shan Carter, prosecutors had planned to seek a death penalty conviction. However, because the FBI lab was unable to produce forensic results for which the prosecutors had prayed would help bolster a case against Carter which was totally lacking in credible evidence, and which was based solely on questionable hearsay testimony from unreliable sources, they instead opted for, and were successful in obtaining, a conviction against Carter which carried a life sentence.
The Brunson case conviction of Carter was quickly followed by the 2001 trial of Shan Carter for capital murder charges against him in the deaths of Tyrone Baker – a drug dealer, and 8 year-old Demetrius Green. In his trial, held before a jury consisting of eleven white people and one African American male, prosecutors repeatedly tied Carter to the Brunson murder (a crime which Shan Carter had always maintained his innocence and denied any involvement). Prosecutors sought a conviction against Carter by preying on the jurors’ empathy and sympathy for the death of an eight year-old boy… advising them not to allow the boy’s death to go unpunished.
Despite the fact that bullets, which might have come from Carter’s gun, struck down an armed and vengeful drug dealer and may have caused the death of an 8 year-old boy, the jury gave prosecutors what it wanted… a capital conviction against Carter for the death of Tyrone Baker (obviously a case of self-defense), and a capital conviction against Carter for the death of the boy Demetrius Green (obviously an accidental and unintentional incident). (I am still uncertain as to whether it has been scientifically established that the bullet or bullets responsible for Green’s death came from Carter’s weapon.)
The record shows that the only time Shan Carter has ever drawn and fired his gun was when he perceived this life to be in danger… in self-defense. His criminal activities were not confrontational in nature, as they mainly consisted selling heroin and of participating in burglaries of dwellings in which no one was at home. Shan never engaged in the armed robbery of a bank, or the armed robbery of an individual. Nor did he ever arm himself for the purpose of going in pursuit of an individual with the intent of taking a life.
When I visited Shan Carter in prison, it was quite sobering to see him wearing a red jumpsuit, which signifies that he is a Death Row inmate. It is such a miscarriage of justice when one considers that he was convicted in the Donald Brunson murder without any credible evidence or eyewitness testimony. The conviction of Shan Carter for Brunson’s murder relied on perjured hearsay testimony of disreputable individuals making statements which the polygraph tester interpreted as deceptive and or statements made in exchange for money. Not only that, but the state withheld from the defense exculpatory mitochondrial DNA evidence on hair samples which supported Shan’s contention that he was not even present when the kidnapping and murder of Brunson took place. The prosecution played fast and loose with discovery by withholding it and/or unacceptably delaying turning it over to the defense.
Like the two preceding Investigative Reports about MSNBC Senior Legal Analyst Susan Filan’s libelous fabrications about Mike Nifong and Duke University’s discrimination against me for openly being a supporter of Mike Nifong, a third Investigative Report will go into depth about the injustices against Shan Edward Carter by the state of North Carolina and its attempt to execute him without cause.
At tremendous expense and waste of taxpayer dollars to hold an inmate on Death Row, the state is proceeding to apply the irrevocable and most extreme punishment to Shan Carter… a man who was completely innocent of the kidnapping and murder of drug dealer Donald Brunson… a man who may have fired the bullet that killed drug dealer Tyrone Baker during an act in self-defense… and a man who has served more than a decade behind bars and may have been responsible for the accidental and inadvertent death of Demetrius Green, an 8 year-old boy who was sitting in a car when struck by a ricocheting bullet. The upcoming Investigative Report, along with future blogs, will provide extensive documentation to support the position that Shan Carter should not only be taken off Death Row, but released from prison with time served for the possible manslaughter charge related to the accidental death of Demetrius Green.