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Man being held on driving violation after Belmont deaths faces drug charge

  • Shawn Carter was taken into custody after his mother and brother were found dead in Belmont last month, charged with driving after his license was revoked or suspended and being held on $200 cash bail. He appeared in Franklin's district court on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Shawn Carter was taken into custody after his mother and brother were found dead in Belmont last month, charged with driving after his license was revoked or suspended and being held on $200 cash bail. He appeared in Franklin's district court on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Judge Edward M. Gordon listens to Jesse Friedman, public defender for Shawn Carter on Tuesday, June 11, 2013. Carter was taken into custody after his mother and brother were found dead in Belmont last month, charged with driving after his license was revoked or suspended and being held on $200 cash bail. He appeared in Franklin's district court on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Judge Edward M. Gordon listens to Jesse Friedman, public defender for Shawn Carter on Tuesday, June 11, 2013. Carter was taken into custody after his mother and brother were found dead in Belmont last month, charged with driving after his license was revoked or suspended and being held on $200 cash bail. He appeared in Franklin's district court on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Shawn Carter was taken into custody after his mother and brother were found dead in Belmont last month, charged with driving after his license was revoked or suspended and being held on $200 cash bail. He appeared in Franklin's district court on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Shawn Carter was taken into custody after his mother and brother were found dead in Belmont last month, charged with driving after his license was revoked or suspended and being held on $200 cash bail. He appeared in Franklin's district court on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Shawn Carter was taken into custody after his mother and brother were found dead in Belmont last month, charged with driving after his license was revoked or suspended and being held on $200 cash bail. He appeared in Franklin's district court on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
  • Judge Edward M. Gordon listens to Jesse Friedman, public defender for Shawn Carter on Tuesday, June 11, 2013. Carter was taken into custody after his mother and brother were found dead in Belmont last month, charged with driving after his license was revoked or suspended and being held on $200 cash bail. He appeared in Franklin's district court on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
  • Shawn Carter was taken into custody after his mother and brother were found dead in Belmont last month, charged with driving after his license was revoked or suspended and being held on $200 cash bail. He appeared in Franklin's district court on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

Shawn Carter, who has been sitting in jail on a driving violation since hours after his mother and brother were found dead in Belmont, was charged yesterday with a drug offense dating back more than a year. His lawyer in turn accused officials of finding creative means to keep Carter incarcerated while they continue their nearly three-week-old investigation into those deaths.

“If he’s going to be charged with something else, they should bring it,” public defender Jesse Friedman said. “But to bring a new charge that is over 15 months old at this time when it is clear that the state is concerned he could be released . . . is repugnant to the constitution and due process.”

Carter was in Franklin’s district court yesterday for a trial on the charge of driving on a suspended license that was filed against him the same day his mother and brother were found hacked to death in the Belmont home they all shared. Carter remained incarcerated at the end of the hearing after the judge delayed that trial and kept his bail at $200 cash, an amount he hasn’t been able to post to this point.

The state attorney general’s office, which had an employee present in the courtroom yesterday, has declined to comment on 31-year-old Carter. Officials have said that while no one is in custody in connection to the homicides, the community is not at risk.

Yesterday, Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin said he wouldn’t address Friedman’s concerns.

“I’m not going to comment on what his lawyer had to say,” Strelzin said.

Both Friedman and the prosecutor bringing the drug charge against Carter, though, called the investigation into his family members’ deaths the “elephant in the room.” As they talked about the driving offense, they at times tiptoed around that topic, with prosecutor Ryan McFarland saying the judge should only consider the charge in front of him and Friedman arguing that couldn’t be done without understanding why the police pulled Carter over in the first place.

Less than two hours after Carter’s mother and brother were found in their home on Sunset Drive, the police issued a “be on the lookout” alert, also known as a BOLO, warning Carter could be armed and dangerous. In preparing to defend Carter against the charges of driving on a suspended license and violating bail conditions, Friedman said he hasn’t been provided any information about why that BOLO was issued.

He questioned whether there is an affidavit explaining the traffic stop under seal at Laconia’s district court, saying he doesn’t know for sure but couldn’t imagine “under the circumstances that has not occurred.”

Because Friedman hasn’t seen such a document, he asked the judge to dismiss the charge, saying the state couldn’t prove the traffic stop was valid without explaining why the BOLO was issued.

Friedman acknowledged that the prosecutor may not be able to answer that question but said there are “people who hold the keys to this information.” He called on the state to “bring their cards to the table.”

“We have requested that information. They have chosen to not give it to us,” he said. “Whatever they are doing or not doing is obviously up to the people that are leading that investigation. But they have chosen to not share any information in relation to what might be coming, what that investigation is or what information was known and given to the police department when Shawn was stopped.”

McFarland told the judge he has turned over all of the police reports in his possession, and he noted that yesterday’s trial was being held only two weeks after Carter was arraigned, an unusually quick turnaround.

“We’re kind of in a gray area because we’re asking for information that I personally do not know. Obviously there was a BOLO put out,” he said. “There’s no question about that. There has to be a reason why the BOLO was put out. . . . If there isn’t a report (explaining that,) I guess I can try to have someone write a report as to why that BOLO was put out.”

He said that would take time.

Judge Edward Gordon ruled against Friedman’s motion to dismiss the driving offense, instead pushing the trial to July 12.

Drug charge

Carter will also have a probable cause hearing that day on the drug offense he was charged with yesterday.

He’s been accused of selling about 2.7 grams of cocaine to an undercover state trooper March 12, 2012, in Tilton. According to an affidavit, the substance Carter sold to the trooper for $200 tested positive for cocaine in May 2012.

But charges weren’t filed against Carter at the time. The affidavit for his arrest was signed May 31 of this year, a week after his mother and brother were found dead. Carter was charged with the crime yesterday morning.

McFarland asked the judge to hold Carter on $5,000 cash bail. He asked Gordon to “not infer anything” from the time delay, saying there are reasons why prosecutors wouldn’t file charges shortly after an undercover drug buy.

He didn’t elaborate on what those reasons may be.

Gordon, though, seemed skeptical that Carter presented a risk if the state waited so long to bring the charge against him.

“I have to set the bail based upon the fact that . . . he’s a flight risk or that he poses a danger to himself or others,” the judge said. “If the state felt he posed such a danger to himself or others, I’m having a hard time figuring out why it’s taken 15 months to bring this charge and decide he ought to be held on bail.”

McFarland said Carter has had a history of not showing up for court dates or abiding by bail conditions. He said Carter could be a danger to the community if he got out of jail and continued to sell illicit drugs.

The judge disagreed and set bail on the drug charge at $10,000 personal recognizance. He kept the $200 cash bail set on Carter’s driving offense.

Friedman has said Carter is indigent and disabled and likely unable to post that amount.

(Tricia L. Nadolny can be reached at 369-3306 or
tnadolny@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @tricia_nadolny.)

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