BELMONT – In a bizarre court hearing in which the prosecutor and defense attorney representing Shawn Carter referred to "the elephant in the room" – potential charges against Carter in relation to the murders of his mother and brother – a judge refused the state's attempt to raise Carter's bail above $200.
Carter, 31, was in the 6th Circuit Court, Franklin District Division, Tuesday for a trial on a driving-after-suspension charge and for a bail payment violation. He had been arrested May 24, a few hours after Timothy Carter, 39, and Priscilla Carter, 59, were found dead from what the state medical examiner called "multiple chop wounds" in a double-homicide.
Carter, who has not been named as a suspect in the murders, had been held on $200 cash bail after the arrest, and has been in jail since, unable to pay his bail. His lawyer, public defender Jesse Friedman, had said he hoped that Carter would be released after the scheduled trial.
But late Monday night, Carter was arrested in his Belknap County jail cell on a felony charge of sale of a narcotic drug for allegedly selling 2.7 grams of "white powder" cocaine to an undercover police officer March 14, 2012.
The charges were made clear in police affidavits filed Tuesday morning, just hours before his trial on the traffic charge.
Carter, who has not been charged with any crimes related to his family members' deaths, sat bound in chains in a jail garment while Friedman expressed outrage at the last-minute arrest, which he intimated was done to keep Carter in jail while the attorney general continues to investigate the deaths of his relatives.
"It's very transparent what's going on here," Friedman said. "That charge is over 15 months old and it was executed this morning, we didn't find out about it until a few hours ago."
"The state needs to bring their cards in front of us. If he's going to be charged with something (in relation to the murders), bring it."
At the beginning of the hearing, Friedman asked Judge Edward Gordon to dismiss the traffic and bail-fine charges because Carter had not been given a reason for being stopped by police prior to his arrest, which came about 40 minutes after police had issued a be-on-the-lookout or bolo alert calling for his detention in relation to the state investigation in Belmont. The bolo alert warned that Carter was armed and dangerous.
Friedman said he had not been provided with any affidavits or other information from authorities that show just cause for Carter being stopped by Belmont and Tilton police.
"Clearly their intention has been not to disseminate that information," he said. "They chose to arrest him, they knew what they were walking into."
A police prosecutor argued that Carter's expedited trial at Friedman's request had not allowed enough time to present the defense with complete information, and he said that given more time, the information would be provided.
He explained the delay in bringing the drug charge by saying that drug distribution cases involve undercover agents and many months time, and he said "the elephant in the room," or the ongoing state investigation into the murders, has slowed the case.
In arraigning Carter on the drug charge, Gordon refused the state's attempt to impose cash bail, giving him $10,000 personal recognizance bail because the state hadn't proved that Carter's drug activities from more than a year ago posed any threat to the public.
Gordon agreed to continue the trial for the traffic and bail charges, setting the next trial date for July 12 at 1:30 p.m., and ordered that the state come forth with information relating the reasons that Carter was stopped by police.
Asked after Tuesday's trial and arraignment, whether Carter would now be able to pay the $200 bail, Friedman answered "no comment."