John Carter murder trial: Defense wants specifics on alleged crimes (2024)

May 20—A month away from trial, the defense for John Carter, the man accused of killing his fiancée in 2011, has filed a motion, the first since preliminary request of discovery last year — asking prosecutors to correct what they called a "legal flaw" in spelling out the specifics of the crime.

Carter is accused of killing Fairfield's Katelyn Markham. A Butler County grand jury indicted Carter in March 2023 on a single count of murder under two sections of the law following a months-long review by investigators from the county prosecutor's office.

He is free after posting a $1 million bond shortly after the indictment. The four-week trial is scheduled to begin June 24 with Butler County Common Pleas Judge Dan Haughey presiding.

According to the motion filed Friday, attorney Chris Pagan faulted the bill of particulars filed in September.

The purpose of the bill of particulars is to provide a defendant with more detail about the charges alleged. The bill involved Carter's changing statements about scratches on his face and the determination from Markham's remains that she had sharp force trauma to her left wrist.

Specifically, the bill of particulars stated: "During the late hours of Aug. 13, 2011, through the early morning hours of Aug. 14, 2011, starting in the area of 5214 Dorshire Drive in the city of Fairfield, Butler County, Ohio, John Carter by physical violence and by force did cause the death of Katelyn Markham."

Pagan said that is not specific enough.

"The Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that the state must inform the defendant in the bill about specific conduct for each offense," Pagan said in the motion, citing a 2022 decision. "On murder, the bill recites the offense elements, but there is no case-specific conduct about what Carter did to purposely cause the victim's death."

The defense said the same flaw is repeated in the felony murder portion of the indictment, saying the state did not specify the underlying felony or felonies that resulted in Markham's death.

"It is true that the bill states that the underlying felony is and F1 or F2 that is an offense violence. But the offense-of-violence statute includes dozens of possible offenses that could satisfy that broad description."

Pagan called the bill of particulars bare bones and said "more is required."

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said it "seems to be very late in the trial aspect of this case to be bringing up a issue now about 30 days from the commencement of this trial."

But, he added, many things happen in the last days before a trial.

"I would prefer to respond to avoid more trial delays," Gmoser said. "I am going to respond one way or another, and it may be a response that says we are satisfied with this as it is."

Markham, a free-spirited art student, was days away from her 22nd birthday when she vanished in August 2011 from her Fairfield townhouse. Her skeletal remains were found April 7, 2013, in a remote wooded area in Indiana about 30 miles from her home. Her death was ruled a homicide, but the cause of death has not been determined.

Last week, a supplemental evidence list was filed by Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Brad Burress.

As of Monday, 84 subpoenas for witnesses have been filed by the prosecution. No names were listed, and all were issued in care of Butler County Prosecutor's Office investigator Paul Newton.

Gmoser, who is trying the case personally along with Burress and Assistant Prosecutor Katie Pridmore, said it is unusual not to name witnesses with subpoena filings, but that it is necessary in this case.

"Especially in a case as far-reaching as this, I don't need to have their names publicized, and I am not going to do it," said Gmoser.

Gmoser said the defense knows the names on the subpoenas and "if you want to find those answers, go ask the defense. They have got all that information. I am not going to put it out there."

Prosecutors have turned over hundreds of documents, reports, pictures, maps, cell phone and computer data, search manifests, witness statements and work product in the case from police and a private detective. Some of the evidence is 13 years old, while some was obtained as recently as last summer and fall.

In January, after a status report hearing that didn't happen in open court, Pagan said the defense would file no motions to suppress evidence.

Carter has not been in a courtroom since April 2023, but he is wearing an ankle monitor and is supervised by pretrial services division.

Prosecutors have also requested a jury view of multiple locations from Butler County to Indiana, where Markham's body was found.

Prosecutors want the jury to go to the West Scioto Drive home in Fairfield where Carter lived in 2011, Markham's townhouse on Dorshire Drive in Fairfield, the location where Markham's body was recovered on South Big Cedar Road in Franklin County, Indiana, and the Carter family farm on Kokomo Hill Road in Franklin County, Indiana.

John Carter murder trial: Defense wants specifics on alleged crimes (2024)


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