Second day of Robert Carter murder trial wraps up
THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - The second day of the trial of the man facing charges in connection to the death of a 70-year-old Thomasville woman started Tuesday.
About the trial:
Robert Carter II is facing murder and sexual battery charges. Carter was arrested in July 2018 after local, state, and federal law enforcement went into an around-the-clock manhunt.
Carter is facing 21 counts including felony murder, concealing the death of another, sexual battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, armed burglary, theft by taking in connection to the 2018 death of Deanna Shirey.
The state called nearly a dozen witnesses to the stand.
Four were alleged victims of Carter, all of which echoed similar sentiments. They are better today but won’t ever be the same.
The first two witnesses were officers, one from the Tallahassee Police Department and the other from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The final witness was Carter’s son, Robert Lee Carter III.
He told a Thomasville jury he’s the one who alerted investigators to a possible crime on the property of his father’s home.
Carter’s son had planned to take over his father’s property but when he was there on July 12, he noticed something suspicious.
“Smelled something foul and called law enforcement and waited for the agency to arrive,” he said.
Law enforcement would soon discover Shirey’s body buried in a shallow grave in Carter’s backyard.
Earlier in the day, much of the testimony revolved around DNA evidence that attempted to link Carter directly to Deanna Shirey. One investigator said DNA that matched that of Deanna Shirey was discovered on a phone case in Robert Lee Carter’s Thomasville home.
During the GBI’s first search warrant of Carter’s home on July 6, when the phone case was found, GBI Special Agent Klay Luke said Carter’s home was in disarray and did not look well kept, and the grass was overgrown.
Defense Counselman Rick Collum asked if the witness noticed any disturbance in the landscape or foul smells on the 6th. The agent said no, there was a large pile of wire near the eventual grave.
Luke said it was difficult to know if things were out of order in Carter’s home because of the state it was in when law enforcement arrived.
At this time, Shirey was still considered a missing person.
Luke said he was hoping to find Shirey somewhere at Carter’s residence, but did not find her.
Whether Shirey’s body was buried in Carter’s backyard on or before July 6 when the first search was conducted at Carter’s home is being argued in court. Shirey’s body was discovered on July 12, 2018.
Due to Carter’s son alerting police of something suspicious, Carter is accused of committing dozens of other crimes in Thomasville and Ohclocknee the week of July 6th, 2018.
One crime scene expert said Carter’s fingerprints were found inside those homes.
The four surviving alleged victims of a week-long crime spree that included armed robbery, sexual assault, and murder also testified Tuesday.
Lilly Ann Robinson took the stand and testified that Carter was a handyman of hers. Prior to July 5, 2018, she hadn’t seen him since the spring.
Robinson said on July 5, she was in her backyard with her dog when Carter emerged from the bushes in her fenced-in backyard.
She testified that Carter said his car had broken down and that he needed to use her phone to call someone.
After the phone call, he didn’t leave, and she testified she started to feel anxious and that something wasn’t right.
Robinson testified that Carter later pulled a gun on her, taped up her wrists and feet, and tied her under her bed. She said he took her cash and debit card.
Robinson testified Carter left her house that night after having her drink two vodka tonics so “he wouldn’t have to worry about me.”
One expert on fingerprints testified that Carter’s fingerprints were found on the vodka and tonic bottles.
Robinson woke up the following day and ran to a neighbor’s and police arrived shortly after.
Robinson testified and stated, “I have PTSD, which was diagnosed by my physiatrist. It’s very difficult for me to hire somebody because I don’t know if I can trust them or not.”
At the end of her testimony, she identified Carter in the courtroom as the man who committed crimes against her in July 2018.
All the victims testified that Carter was their handyman and identified Carter in the courtroom as the man they say is responsible.
For one victim, Carter is accused of sexual assault.
While these crimes happened one day in July nearly four years ago, the victims testified they are struggling to overcome what they say happened to them.
The victim of sexual assault said, “It emotionally and mentally traumatized me. Even though I am a lot better, I am traumatized for life. I’ll never be who I used to be. I have a lot less trust in general and definitely less trust for men.”
Vance Stevens another alleged victim of Carter’s crimes said, “With my mom, she seems to be a lot more stressed and scared a lot of the time. So that part hasn’t been great.”
These alleged crimes initiated an extensive around-the-clock manhunt for Carter, involving several agencies like the US Marshalls.
Marty West who is a US Marshall Deputy specializing in fugitive apprehension was requested to assist in this manhunt.
After setting up a large perimeter in Ochlocknee near a couple of bridges, West said they found Carter on July 8.
“One of my task force officers was walking over a log jam in the river, trying to get to from one side to the other and he slipped and fell. When he looked down, he noticed an arm wrapped around one of the logs. Mr. Carter was located up under that log fuller submerged. Mr. Carter was removed from the river and they brought him up to me.”
This story will be updated as the trial progresses.
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