Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shaky witnesses with hearsay evidence, witness intimidation, and suppression of exculpatory evidence used to win murder conviction against Shan Carter

Notice of errors: Please be aware of the errors in the blog which follows. Shan Carter notified me of the mistakes just hours ago. I accept responsibility for them, apologize for them, will post another blog to address the errors in depth, and will take measures to try and prevent mistakes in the future. Specifically the mistakes are as follows:
1) on February 10, 1997, Keith Richardson picked Shan Carter out of a photo lineup as the person who had shot him – however, Carter was neither charged or arrested for that incident;
2) Louis Tyson, not Shan Carter, named Kwada Temoney and Julius Jones as the two masked suspects who he believed had robbed him and shot him in the leg; and
3) Carter never asked his attorney Richard G. Miller to obtain copies of pay phone records.
posted - December 17, 2010

The December 6, 1996 kidnap and murder of drug-dealer Donald Brunson in Wilmington, NC was committed by Kwada Temoney and two accomplices. However the wheels of justice falsely ensnared a man innocent of any involvement in that crime… Shan Edward Carter. Although no forensic or physical evidence existed and there were no eyewitnesses tying Carter to the crime, he was nonetheless convicted of participating in Brunson’s murder as prosecutors sought the death penalty. In fact, evidence consisting of hair fibers and saliva on two masks and a toboggan cap, were exculpatory with respect to Carter. Yet, the state of North Carolina fought mightily to win a conviction and a life sentence (prosecutors had sought a death penalty). Jurors felt that if the one man linked to the crime (Temoney) was given a plea deal which spared his life in exchange for a life sentence, then it would be unfair for others involved in Brunson’s murder to be given the death sentence… hence, Carter’s life sentence.

Prosecutor John Sherrill, who led the state’s prosecution against Carter, had invaluable help from the judge on the case, the SBI lab (of course), and even Carter’s defense attorney Richard G. Miller, in his successful bid to win a conviction. In addition to witness intimidation by the prosecutor, the existence of vital evidence (involving pay phone records) which was made known by the defendant Carter was ignored by all, including Carter’s attorneys, until it was allegedly destroyed many years later.

In an affidavit of January 18, 2005, Attorney Sharon L. Smith makes the claim that Shan Carter’s claim of innocence is credible (just as this blog has maintained). Specifically, her statements include the following: “I find Shan’s claims of innocence to be credible, in part because t here is no physical, eyewitness or DNA evidence linking him to the crimes. In addition, the prosecution’s evidence at trial was inconsistent with eyewitness statements given immediately after the crimes and with the time frame in which the crimes occurred. Because of the lack of any direct evidence, Shan’s convictions in the Brunson case were procured by the use of hearsay evidence that is inadmissible under the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004).” (Link below will lead to Sharon Smith’s affidavit.)

According to Donald Brunson’s girlfriend, Ana Santiago, the home invasion occurred early in the morning of December 6, 1996 in the following manner. Brunson and Ms. Santiago were in bed when the door to their apartment and bedroom were kicked in. Three armed and masked men entered, tied her up and severely beat Brunson in an attempt to procure the location of his stash of money. Then using Santiago’s car, Brunson was taken and deposited in the trunk and was driven to a desolate location, accompanied by another vehicle of the assailants. It is believed that Brunson was fatally shot a short distance from Santiago’s car and that an attempt was made by the perpetrators to burn the stolen vehicle used to kidnap Brunson in a bid to destroy evidence. The two ski masks and a toboggan cap used to conceal the identities of the three men were placed in the car, but remained intact when the vehicle failed to be consumed in flames. SBI and FBI labs later analyzed hair fibers and saliva found on the masks to compare with suspects in the case.

In less than a month after Brunson’s death, on January 1, 1997, Shan Carter and Kwada Temoney attempted to burglarize the residence of drug-dealer Keith Richardson. A silent alarm triggered a police response that led to the capture of Carter, and eventually Temoney. Shortly thereafter, Shan bonded out from jail. On February 5, 1997, Richardson, who had been showing Carter’s mug-shot and asking questions about him, came across Carter who was walking with Julius Jones to visit Temoney. After confronting them and establishing the true identity of Carter, Richardson took from his back pocket a gun (believed by Carter to be a .22 or .25 caliber gun). Shan Carter withdrew from his shoulder holster a .357 magnum gun and started firing at Richardson. One bullet struck Richardson in the forearm as he took flight and ran. Carter briskly walked away in the opposite direction. (Link below will also lead to Julius Jones’s 2005 affidavit in which he stated that he saw the gun drawn by Richardson on February 5, 1997, and that Shan acted in self-defense against the aggressor Richardson. Jones was never called to the stand to refute Richardson’s claim that he was unarmed in the altercation.)

Shan Carter was later arrested, and on February 10, 1997, was picked out of a lineup by Richardson as the man who had shot him. Again, Carter obtained bond and was temporarily free on the streets of Wilmington.

Since November 1996, in the month prior to the Brunson murder, Tyrone Baker, a drug-dealer from New York, had made public threats of his intention of killing those responsible for the theft of $40,000 in cash from his apartment, along with a few other personal items. The three he believed responsible, and rightfully so, were Damont White, Kwada Temoney, and Shan Carter. On or about February 16, 1997, Baker found Temoney and Carter on the corner of Tenth and Dawson. Without warning, Baker punched Temoney in the face, and according to Temoney, knocking him out cold. Baker then menacingly approached Carter with a heavy army field coat draped over his arm and hand, which Carter believed concealed a firearm. Carter took out his .357 magnum in one hand and fired low at Baker in an attempt to wound him. The first bullet struck Baker in the front of his thigh, and the recoil of the gun brought the barrel higher as he squeezed off the second shot which struck Baker in the left side below his ribcage as he turned to his right to flee. To prevent Baker from using the corner of the store as cover from which to possibly return fire, Carter followed Baker to the corner. He fired three more shots from his revolver in Baker’s direction to entice him to keep running and allow Carter to get to his car parked near the corner so he could drive away. Tragically, one of the bullets struck an 8 year-old boy, Demetrius Green, in the head as he sat in a parked car and he died. (Carter never saw the boy, and only learned hours later that Baker and Demetrius Green had both died.) When Carter reached his car, Temoney had recovered and got in the car, and they drove away. Renee Barnes, an acquaintance and dealer for Baker, witnessed the event and ran to Baker’s side. She took Baker’s army field coat, and probably a weapon hidden beneath it, along with his car keys, and left the crime scene before police arrived. (Ms. Barnes drove to Baker’s girlfriend’s house in Baker’s car. The coat eventually ended up in New York, and was sent to Wilmington authorities in 1998, still containing some dried blood.)

On February 18, 1997, Kwada Temoney and Julius Jones wearing masks, broke into Louis Tyson’s home seeking money. Temoney shot Tyson in the legs during the home invasion, with some of Tyson’s blood getting on Temoney’s navy blue coat. Afterwards, Temoney went to the motel where Carter was staying. Authorities had closed in on the motel when a taxi cab arrived for Carter and Temoney. Carter, wearing his black coat with orange lining, grabbed Temoney’s blue coat to facilitate their egress from the hotel, as Temoney exited without wearing a coat. The police then surrounded the two and made their arrest.

Although Shan had no involvement with the home invasion of Lou Tyson which had taken place earlier, prosecutors and police tried to link the blood-stained navy blue coat as belonging to Carter. Eventually, no charges were taken out against Carter for the armed robbery/home invasion of Louis Tyson.

After Carter’s arrest in February 18, 1997, Carter remained in custody. Over the ensuing two and a half year period police tried to link Carter to the Brunson murder through forensics tests. Meanwhile, Carter relationship with his wife, Lakeisha had been strained to the point that by the beginning of 1998, they were no longer communicating. Lakeisha had mental health issues, including involuntary commitment, and she had some justifiable hostility towards Carter for his womanizing ways prior to his most recent incarceration.

By October 1999, authorities had exhausted all forensic avenues and were unsuccessful in their attempts to link Carter to the Donald Brunson kidnapping and murder, however charges still loomed for Carter with respect to the deaths of Tyrone Baker and 8 year-old Demetrius Green. There is no doubt in my mind that prosecutors wanted a conviction against Carter in the Brunson case to take into trial against Carter in the deaths of Baker and Green. To proceed against Carter in the Baker/Green cases without a prior serious conviction would make prevailing in what was obviously a self-defense and accidental shooting situation all the more daunting. So, as Assistant District Attorney John Sherrill told the staff writer Amy E. Turnbull of the Wilmington Morning Star, they “made a case (against Shan Carter in the Brunson murder) that did not exist.” Making a case against Carter was achieved basically through conjured up hearsay testimony from witnesses who were unreliable, intimidated, and coaxed with financial gain. It was achieved by suppressing evidence which would expose the conspiracy against Carter. And, it was achieved with the help of judges, the SBI lab, and Carter’s own attorney Richard G. Miller and Carter’s appeals attorney Edwin L. West III.

The campaign against Carter in the Brunson murder began in earnest in October 1999, and at trial two years later consisted mainly of hearsay testimony by Shonte Bowen and Lakeisha Carter, Shan’s estranged wife. Shonte’s testimony was used to try and tie Carter in the presence of Kwada Temoney at the time of the home invasion where Brunson was residing with his girlfriend. Shonte Bowen was a drug user and drug-dealer whose testimony about the Brunson murder was known by the New Hanover Sheriff’s Department to be suspect. A polygraph test re: the Brunson crime was given to Nakiha “Shonte” Bowen on April 28, 1998. The test was conducted to determine if Ms. Bowen was being truthful regarding information she had provided about the Donald Brunson homicide investigation. The conclusion was “Deception Indicated.” A follow-up polygraph exam was performed on Ms. Bowen the following day, April 29, 1998, with the same focus. The same conclusion, “Deception Indicated,” was reached. (The link situated below will lead to the polygraph test results of April 28 and 29, 1998.)

Shonte Bowen received money from the North Carolina Banker’s Association as a result of her knowledge about a bank robbery, and was granted money for information about other crimes. (Link below will lead to a transaction in which she received payment for information given about a bank robbery.)

The other person whose statements were instrumental in Shan Carter’s conviction in the Donald Brunson murder was Shan’s estranged wife, Lakeisha Carter. In order to obtain statements from Lakeisha, authorities went through Demetria Green, a close relative of 8 year-old Demetrius Green, the boy accidentally shot by Carter in his defensive actions against Tyrone Baker. Demetria had no affection for Lakeisha as the two had a past history in which they both dated the same boy. She certainly despised Carter for his role in Demetrius Green’s death.

On October 11, 1999, Detective Tom Witkowski, FBI Agent Paul Cox, and New Hanover Assistant District Attorney John Sherrill went to Lakeisha Carter’s home. Sherrill was introduced to Lakeisha as the assistant district attorney, but remained silent while the others spoke with her about the Brunson case.

The following day, October 12, 1999, Detective Witkowski and Agent Cox returned to Lakeisha’s house and continued to ask her questions about Brunson.

Then, in the morning of October 14, 1999, Demetria Green went to the school where Lakeisha’s aunt worked in an attempt to contact Lakeisha. The aunt referred her to Lakeisha’s grandfather Rudolf Maulete, who had essentially raised Lakeisha because her mother was heavily involved with drugs. Demetria called Maulete and told him about the urgency of contacting Lakeisha, whereupon Maulete picked her up and they proceeded to Lakeisha’s house. Demetria told Lakeisha that if she did not go with her to make a statement to the authorities, that she would be arrested and charged as an accessory in the Donald Brunson murder. Believing Demetria’s warning to be credible after the recent previous visits from authorities, Lakeisha went with Demetria to Maulete’s car, and they all headed towards town.

On the way downtown, Demetria demanded that Mr. Maulete pull off the road so that she could make a call from a pay phone. (It has always been Shan’s belief that the call made from that pay phone by Demetria was to Cox, Witkowski, or someone in the Sheriff’s or District Attorney’s Office… most likely to let them know they were on the way or to get instructions as to where they would meet.) Demetria led them to the District Attorney’s Office where FBI Agent Paul Cox, Detective Tom Witkowski, Detective Blake Boaz, and prosecutors Ben David and John Sherrill just happened to be. It was Detectives Boaz and Witkowski, along with Agent Cox who then videotaped an interview with Lakeisha Carter, who had no attorney or legal representation. (That part of the transcript of the interview which exists will be posted later. In an affidavit Lakeisha stated that she had no idea that the interview was being recorded. Also, the prosecution claims that major portions of the interview were lost due to mechanical malfunctions with the recording devices.)

Despite the fact that only a selected portion of the videotaped interview was intact, the judge allowed its admission into evidence in the trial against Carter for the Brunson murder.

Knowing that the pay phone records would provide a link from Demetria Green to the prosecution’s team, Shan Carter tried feverishly to have his attorney Richard Miller obtain records from the telephone company. Miller stalled, and never did follow up on obtaining the pay phone records.

As early as January 26, 2001, Shan Carter asked his appeals attorney, Edwin L. West III to obtain the pay phone records. (Link below leads to letter to confirm such a request.) However, like Carter’s attorney before him, West dillydallied and did nothing to obtain such records, undoubtedly with the intent of protecting the prosecution team at the very expense of his client Shan Carter.

Shan’s next appeals attorney Sharon L. Smith mentions the pay phone in correspondence with Carter in letters dated March 19, 2008 through April 29, 2008, with the last letter explaining that the phone company had destroyed the pay phone records several years earlier. (Link below will lead to those letters.)

It is of interest to note in an affidavit by Sharon Smith that she was retained or appointed as Shan Carter’s appeals attorney no later than January 18, 2005. Yet, she apparently did not begin to investigate the pay phone records until March 19, 2008, more than three years later. According to the phone company, the pay phone records had been destroyed several years earlier. In other words, had Attorney Smith acted in a timely manner with regards to the pay phone records, there is a good likelihood that she would have been able to obtain them for Shan’s defense. Another example of inexplicable negligence on behalf of Carter’s attorneys which has been responsible for his failure to receive justice in the Brunson case… but then, maybe the delayed action by Shan’s defense attorneys over a decade (to simply obtain vitally important records about a pay phone) was intentional. Because of the inept representation Carter has received from the beginning, I am strongly inclined to believe the latter.

This is more than enough to digest at one sitting. More astounding revelations about the travesty of justice Shan Edward Carter has been subjected to by the North Carolina’s system of selective justice based on Class and Color will be forthcoming.


1 comment:

Nifong Supporter said...

When documents are posted that support your statements and contentions, it makes it difficult to take a contrary position.

I spoke with Shan Carter today, several hours ago, and he corrected me on a few issues in the blog in which I made mistakes... all unintentional, mostly of minor significance. However, I did err with regards to my statement that Shan asked Attorney Richard Miller to obtain pay phone records. A brief correction will be added to the beginning of the blog, and a blog explaining the errors in greater detail will follow.