Verdict reached in Robert Carter, Jr. murder trial

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Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 4:42 PM EST
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THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - A jury has reached a verdict for the man standing trial in connection to the 2018 death of a 70-year-old woman and other crimes.

Robert Carter, Jr. was found guilty on all the charges the court was allowed to consider in the trial. He was acquitted of felony murder and one count of false imprisonment in relation to the death of Deanna Shirey. He was found guilty of kidnapping, and the other false imprisonment charges, armed robbery, theft by taking, sexual battery, and other charges.

Carter has been sentenced to four life sentences plus 17 years.

The defense argued there was a lack of evidence to prove Carter killed Shirey in July 2018.

The defense tried to get every count acquitted against Carter Wednesday afternoon.

The judge overruled and denied their motions for the remaining 19 counts.

The defense argued Shirey’s body was never positively identified at the crime scene, and a cause of death is not on record.

The state said a coroner was not at the scene on July 12, 2018, when a body was discovered in Carter’s backyard.

The state claimed there’s enough “circumstantial evidence” to connect Carter to the disappearance and death of Shirey.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Hank Day testified Shirey’s family identified the jewelry and phone case discovered from the July 6 search warrant of Carter’s home to be Shirey’s.

Day also stated there was no other missing person case in Thomasville around this time. Day also testified there is no “physical evidence” that Carter was at Shirey’s home between July 1-3.

Before the judge read Carter his sentencing, members of Shirey’s family took the opportunity to speak before the court to share their emotional journey the past three and a half years.

They said Carter was somebody their mom, Deanna trusted greatly.

In return, the family says that trust has been betrayed.

Nick Abiusi, Shirey’s son-in-law said they will never be the same.

“Nothing can ever prepare you for this. Nothing will ever heal this. We may get better living with it but you never ever get better. We ask that you sentence Carter so that he may never allow him to get out and hurt others the way he has hurt all of us here before you today,” said Abiusi. “Sunday, July 1, Carter sentenced us to a life without Deanna, our mom, our nana. There is no parole for us, so there should be no parole for him. While it won’t bring our loved ones back, it’ll bring some justice to Deanna and for our family. And that, in some small way, will help us to better live with this devastating loss.”

Shirey’s great-granddaughter, Lexis Rhodes describes the devastation she felt following Shirey’s death.

”For the next few weeks, I developed extreme sleep paralysis. All of my nightmares included the death of my nana and how I couldn’t save her. I questioned everything, ‘Was this my fault? Where was my God? Could I have helped her?’ I watched a million True Crime documentaries stories. I’m still trying to convince myself that I wasn’t in one. When I lost my nana, I lost a part of me that I am still looking for.”

Shirey’s sister nancy Parnell describes the void left behind, “No words adequate enough to attempt to describe the void left by her death, because the pain is too grave. No words to attempt to adequately describe the lasting sorrow felt by her death because our sorrow runs too deep. No adequate words to mend hearts broken by her death, because they are beyond repair.”

About the case

Carter was arrested in July 2018 after local, state, and federal law enforcement went into an around-the-clock manhunt.

Robert Carter, Jr., right, is standing trial in connection to the 2018 death of Deanna Shirey,...
Robert Carter, Jr., right, is standing trial in connection to the 2018 death of Deanna Shirey, left. (WCTV)(WCTV)

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 Deanna Shirey Case: A timeline of events in the case

Read the full indictment from April 2019 below:

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