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Court documents shed light on case against Belmont man accused of killing his mother & brother

BELMONT — Police affidavits supporting the search and arrest warrants for the former home, personal property, and person of accused double murderer Shawn Carter indicate that during his initial interview with police he told them he was someone else.

During Carter's initial interview with two N.H. State Troopers held at the Belmont Police Department, Carter initially waived his Miranda rights and told police he was Alex Morley but he didn't know the date of his birth.

Carter told police he was also known as Shawn Carter and gave them a birth date of November 3, 1981.

When asked, affidavits said he told police that he had last visited his mother on Thursday, May 23, 2013 and she had let him borrow her car that evening.

Priscilla Carter, 59, and her son Timothy Carter, 39, were found chopped to death around 11 a.m. on May 24 in a first-floor bedroom at the 20 Sunset Drive home the three shared. The Asst. N.H. Medical Examiner estimated their times of death at between 10 p.m. and midnight on May 23.

The coroner determined each died of multiple chopping wounds consistent with those that could have been delivered with an ex or a hatchet. Priscilla Carter also had a single stab wound that was consistent with a knife.

Carter was spotted on May 24 driving his mother's car on Route 3 by Tilton Police who, along with Belmont and State Police arrested him. He was initially charged with driving without a license — second offense.

Taken to the Belmont Police Station, Carter asked them why he was there and they told him his mother and brother had been killed.

"Carter did not respond when told that information," read the affidavit. It went on to say that Carter told police he hadn't slept in six months and had no recollection of anything except being stopped by police.

He said he was returning his mother's car when he was stopped by police.

At that point, read the affidavit, Carter said he wanted a lawyer and the interview stopped.

During their interviews of neighbors and employees following the discovery of the bodies, an employee of Winnisquam Marine, located next to the house, said Shawn Carter had come on the company's property a few times — once he was asking for someone named Alex.

A neighbor told police she saw lights on in the house, both upstairs and downstairs, around 3:30 a.m. on May 24.

During the interview, said police, one trooper noticed there was "red/brown staining of the body of the baseball cap Carter was wearing that was consistent with blood splatter."

The second trooper said that during the time he was with Carter, Carter never asked him what happened to his mother and brother nor did he, in this trooper's opinion, express any surprise when told about their deaths.

Belmont Police supervisors interviewed Frank Dalton, the owner of the home rented by the Carters.

Affidavits said Dalton rented the house to the Carters and about three or four days before the murders, he asked Priscilla what was wrong with her son and she told him "Shawn was very depressed."

Dalton also told police that about one week before the murders, Priscilla Carter asked him about getting some wood. Police found two small stacks of chopped wood logs on the first floor of the home.

Affidavits said Dalton told police that Shawn Carter has stated he needed to get a hatchet and Dalton had told him the wood was already split and a hatchet wasn't needed. He also said he saw Shawn sitting outside and staring at Lake Winnisquam the day before the murders. Priscilla's car wasn't there and Dalton assumed she was working as he knew she did every day.

A second trooper spoke with Dalton's son who said he saw Shawn Carter splitting wood with a yellow-handled ax. A yellow-handled ax was recovered from the truck of Priscilla Carter's car when Shawn was arrested.

Affidavits say that three spots of blood from the ax were tested and determined Timothy Carter was the major source of the DNA. "As to two of the samples, due to the complexity of the genetic information, it cannot be determined whether Priscilla Carter and/or Shawn Carter may be a minor contributor to the DNA that was obtained," read the arrest warrant affidavit.

Two samples tested from the light-colored baseball cap Shawn Carter was wearing when he was arrested showed Timothy Carter was the major contributor. Again forensic specialists were unable to determine if Priscilla or Shawn Carter may have been minor contributors.

Two blood samples taken from one of the boots Carter was wearing after his arrest showed that Timothy Carter was the major contributor to one of them. As to the other sample, Shawn Carter was excluded as a contributor however, neither Priscilla nor Timothy can be excluded a a source.

"The DNA and blood evidence obtained from the Lab is consistent with Shawn Carter wearing his boots and baseball cap at the time he used the yellow-handled ax to kill Timothy Carter and Priscilla Carter," read the arrest warrant.

Included in the search warrant affidavits was also a description of the bedroom where both bodies were found. Police said they noticed glass that apparently came from a broken globe on a ceiling fan in the room on the floor behind Priscilla Carter's head.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 December 2013 01:38

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Judge rejects plea bargain involving heroin sale in Belmont

LACONIA — A Belknap County Superior Court judge rejected a Brooklyn, N.Y woman's attempt to plead guilty to one count of possession of heroin yesterday, telling her he found the negotiated plea that allowed for seven months of her 12 month sentence be suspended was inadequate.

Judge James O'Neill told Heather Cleveland, 27, that he would accept a 12 month sentence if all of it was served. He also said that if she successfully completed the ADAPT drug and alcohol abuse program while in jail, he would agree to allow the rest of her sentence to be suspended.

He agreed with both the prosecutor and Cleveland's defense counsel Wade Harwood that prison was not appropriate.

O'Neill also asked Prosecutor Carley Ahern if the Belmont Police were in agreement with the proffered sentence and she replied that they took no position.

Cleveland was arrested on September 4, 2013 by two Belmont Police officers who were working a drug detail in the village. According to affidavits obtained in September from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, the police saw a car idling in front of 125 Main St.

Cleveland came from the house and got into the car that headed down Main Street but didn't have its head lights on.

During the stop, an officer posted behind the car but out of eyesight of Cleveland said he saw a movement that looked like her taking a bottle from the back seat of the car and putting it into to center console.

The driver of the car gave police permission to search it and police recovered the bottle, finding 53 paper packages. A random sample of four of them at the state lab showed they contained heroin.

Yesterday, Ahern said the total weight of the heroin was 2.04 grams. When Judge O'Neill asked what the approximate street value was, Atty. Wade Harwood said it was about $200.

Harwood said he and Ahern worked to craft a sentence that would be rehabilitative and there were suppression issues that could be raised should the case go to trial, meaning in his opinion some or all of the evidence may be excluded from the jury because of the way it was obtained.

He said Cleveland had no criminal record, was the mother of two children, and was working during the time she was arrested. Harwood also noted she volunteered in her church and collected items for Hurricane Sandy survivors.

Cleveland told the judge tearfully that she "was committed to turning herself around" and that heroin possession was a selfish act that hurt her family. She also accepted responsibility for her actions.

"I learned I don't want to become the person I was becoming," she said.

Cleveland has been in the Belknap County House of Corrections since her arrest and is credited with 90 days of pretrial confinement. Had O'Neill accepted the plea as negotiated, she would have served two more months.

It is not known if she and Harwood will reconsider O'Neill's offer or go to trial.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 December 2013 03:18

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City won't pick up & dispose of Christmas trees this season

LACONIA — Putting an end to a longstanding municipal service, the Department of Public Works announced Monday that it will no longer collect Christmas trees at the curbside during the weeks immediately after the holidays.

The decision represents an effort by the DPW to make more efficient use of its personnel and equipment.

However, the department will continue to dispose of trees taken to one of three locations. Residents can leave their trees at the brush dump on Hilliard Road at The Weirs on the four Wednesdays in January — January 8, 15, 22 and 29 — between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. when an attendant will be present to assist. Trees can also be taken to the Transfer Station on Meredith Center Road between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday and Saturdays from 8 a.m. until noon. Drivers must pull on to the scales then drop their trees in the designated area. Finally, trees can be dropped in the marked area at the Memorial Park softball field on West Street.

Residents with questions may call Ann Saltmarsh at the DPW, 528-6379, extension 300.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 December 2013 03:29

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Diesel engine mechanics program could be moving to LRCC

BERLIN — White Mountains Community College will suspend its nursing program for a year while the college restructures it to respond to concerns raised by the N.H Board of Nursing about below average licensing exam results.

In addition, N.H. Community College System Chancellor Ross Gittell confirmed that the system is seriously discussing moving the popular mobile equipment technology program from the Berlin facility to Lakes Region Community College in Laconia.

The college said it will not accept a new class of students in its associate nursing program in the fall of 2014 while it restructures the curriculum to better align the program "with the demands of the profession and improving the consistency of documented outcomes." New students will be accepted into the program for the fall of 2015.

WMCC President Katharine Eneguess said the decision to institute a one-year hiatus was a difficult one. She said the move was taken to address concerns raised by the N.H. Board of Nursing, which placed the program on conditional approval in June. In a release, Eneguess said the action will allow the nursing faculty and college leadership to devote the resources needed to revamp the program. She said the needs include designing strong pathways to baccalaureate nursing programs and improving licensure scores of program graduates, which Eneguess said last met national and state benchmarks in 2011.

Gittell last week said the college system is discussing moving the mobile equipment technology program to Laconia. The program teaches students to diagnose, service, and repair diesel-powered trucks and equipment. Gittell said the discussions are generated by the desire of the program's industrial partners to have it more centrally located. He said the program is at less than full capacity because potential students do not want to travel as far north as Berlin. The program currently has 26 students including 10 freshmen and 16 seniors. Last year the program had a total of 34 students.

Gitell said the program is also losing significant money, which he described as over $100,000 annually.

He said it is possible part of the program would remain at the Berlin campus.

"It might not be a question of moving the whole program," he said.

Gittell said his office is providing analysis of costs and benefits but the final decision rests with the board of trustees. The legislature will also be involved since it would have to approve a capital appropriation to build a facility at Laconia to house the program.

In the minutes of the board's Oct. 3 meeting, Board Chairman Paul Holloway said moving the program from WMCC will not occur until the system has a capital appropriation from the state.

With enrollment down at WMCC, Gittell was asked how the loss of the program would impact the Berlin facility. He said he thought it might improve the college's viability by removing a program that is losing money. He stressed that the board is very committed to maintaining both the Berlin and Littleton facilities.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 12:39

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