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UPDATE: Shawn Carter of Belmont charged in May deaths of mother, brother

Shawn Carter

Shawn Carter

UPDATE 8:55 a.m.: Due to a scheduling conflict, Shawn Carter will be arraigned at 1 p.m. today in Franklin’s district court. He was previously expected to be arraigned at 9 a.m. in Laconia’s district court.

Check concordmonitor.com for updates this afternoon.

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The Belmont man incarcerated on a driving offense while state officials investigated the hacking deaths of his mother and brother has been charged with murder.

Shawn Carter, who in recent months had worried friends with bizarre and erratic behaviors, will be arraigned this morning at Laconia’s district court. Carter, 31, will appear by video feed from the Belknap County jail, where he’s been held since hours after his relatives were found dead May 24 inside the Sunset Drive rental they had shared for only a month.

When announcing the arrest yesterday, officials released no new information about how 59-year-old Priscilla Carter and 39-year-old Tim Carter died. Multiple search warrants and an arrest warrant are sealed from public view in court, said Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin.

But what officials have said – that the mother and son succumbed to multiple “chop wounds” – suggests a grisly image of their deaths that friends say has haunted them for weeks.

“There’s no winning in this situation,” said Lionel Reed, a childhood friend of Tim Carter’s who has always considered the Carters to be like family. “I just want some justice. It’s just crazy that the justice is going to occur to the youngest brother of this family. . . . You can’t right this horror.”

Carter was taken into custody and charged with driving on a suspended license the day his relatives were found and a few hours after the police issued a “be on the lookout” alert warning he could be armed and dangerous. A judge ordered he be held on $200 cash bail.

While officials had until now declined to peg Carter as a suspect, the lawyer appointed to represent him on the driving charge speculated as much in court last month when the state police charged him with a year-old drug offense.

The attorney expected Carter could have been released that day and – calling the homicide investigation the “elephant in the room” – accused law enforcement officials of finding creative means to keep him incarcerated.

When confronted with those concerns after the hearing, Strelzin declined to comment on Carter. Carter was scheduled to appear in court Friday on those pending charges.

Yesterday Strelzin said he couldn’t discuss why officials believe they have probable cause to charge Carter now when they haven’t before. He said Carter has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder – one for his mother and one for his brother – but wouldn’t say whether Carter is accused of committing the crimes recklessly or knowingly.

He said that information will be released today when the complaints are filed in court.

Odd behavior reported

A few weeks before his mother and brother were found dead, Carter began to concern neighbors when he repeatedly wandered into a business next to the family’s home, talking nonsensically and asking for a man who didn’t work there.

Friends who heard that story for the first time in the wake of the homicides said it didn’t surprise them.

Carter, they said, had been acting increasingly strange during the previous few months, behavior they saw as the latest in a decline caused by heavy drug use.

Carter’s recreational drug habit escalated about three years ago after he was injured in an accident at work and was prescribed pain medication, friends said. At the time, Carter had custody of his two daughters, who are now ages 14 and 11, said longtime family friend Joyce Hendrickson. She said they went to live with their mother.

Friends said the pain pills led to Carter using other drugs. Priscilla Carter supported Carter’s habit to the detriment of her own finances, leading to her and Tim Carter being briefly homeless, Hendrickson said. The two lived with Hendrickson for a short time last year, then moved into a motel before finding the Sunset Drive rental in April.

Hendrickson and other family friends said they were surprised to see Carter living with his mother and brother, considering how unpredictable he had become.

Hendrickson said Carter’s mental state seemed to deteriorate quickly about Thanksgiving of last year, and she described a time when he dug into a wall and claimed there were millions of dollars hidden inside. On another occasion, Hendrickson said Carter told her he had been initiated into a motorcycle club at age 12 and was wondering why the group hadn’t reached out to him.

In February, he posted a message on Facebook calling himself “king.”

“I told you I chose a mortal life,” he wrote. “The truth is I spoke with kronos. I have decided to except his offer. I will return to him instead. I will go on alone. This is true. He put the blade in my hand. To my queenz I’m deeply sorry. I will not be able to return or ever say goodbye. I love you all so much. But my time is up.”

Someone commented suggesting he needed help.

Tim Carter lived with his mother for most of his adult life, according to friends who described him as exhibiting signs of depression and schizophrenia. Hendrickson said he wanted to work but struggled during interviews. Priscilla Carter also has a daughter who lives in Meredith, Hendrickson said.

She said Priscilla and Tim Carter were buried at a private family funeral. Friends have talked of holding a celebration of life, but one has not been scheduled.

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

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