|New hearing for convicted deputy |
A former sheriff’s deputy convicted of murdering his estranged wife’s companion could face a possible retrial in Weakley County Circuit Court. It was two and a half years ago when a jury found Claudell Carpenter guilty of committing second-degree murder and first-degree felony murder. An appeal, filed April 10, 2007 with the criminal court of appeals of Tennessee in Jackson, has been suspended pending a retrial.
Carpenter was convicted in November 2005 of shooting Joe Martin of Sharon after he found Martin in a bedroom inside the apartment of his estranged wife. Jury members listened to three days of testimony that placed Carpenter, a Weakley County Sheriff’s deputy at the time, at the home of Susan Renee Carpenter and the couple’s two children on the night of June 15, 2004.
Details surrounding Renee Carpenter’s intimate relationship with Martin surfaced during the trial while Claudell Carpenter’s attorney Joe Atnip attempted to convince the jury the deadly actions taken against Martin that night stemmed from a crime of passion.
According to testimony, Claudell Carpenter drove to his estranged wife’s apartment after she did not answer her telephone. Carpenter was off-duty that evening, but took his service weapon with him to the home in a Weakley County Sheriff’s cruiser. After breaking through the front door, Carpenter found his estranged wife and Martin in a bedroom together and proceeded to fire multiple rounds into his rival.
Martin was pronounced dead at the scene.
Carpenter was later tried and found guilty by a jury of his peers of second-degree murder; first-degree murder in the perpetration of a burglary; especially aggravated burglary and aggravated assault.
A first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence in prison.
Circuit Court Judge William Acree overturned the jury convictions in June 2006 and dismissed the first-degree felony murder conviction while reducing the second-degree murder conviction to voluntary manslaughter.
Acree sentenced him to 12 years with the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
Martin’s widow and mother to his three children explained recently that the State has been diligent in seeking appeals to reinstate the jury’s original verdict.
“I want to thank the men and women who sat through the trial listening to testimony. My family appreciates the emotional time and energy put into their decision,” Karen Martin said in an interview. She said she wanted people to know the juror’s efforts in reaching a verdict against the man who took her husband’s life three years ago were held with gratitude.
“You, as citizens of this county, took your responsibility very seriously and came together to ensure the law was upheld. Your decision did not go unnoticed and your voices did not fall on deaf ears,” Karen Martin added.
With the latest conclusion reached by the court of appeals in March of this year, Carpenter’s original sentence of life in prison has been reinstated.
“Based upon the foregoing authorities and reasoning, we conclude that the State’s appeal in this matter premature. Accordingly, the matter is remanded to the trial court for a ruling on the motion for a new trial and then, entry of judgments resulting from the court’s rulings. Since these judgments were entered prematurely following the court’s granting the motion for judgment of acquittal, they are set aside, and the jury verdicts for second-degree murder (Count 1), first-degree murder in the perpetration of a burglary (Count 2) and aggravated assault (Count 4) are reinstated,” the findings read form the court of criminal appeals.
According to Attorney General Tommy Thomas, Carpenter will appear in Weakley County Circuit Court once again when Acree will hear a motion for a retrial.
The motion hearing is set for 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 22 in Weakley County Circuit Court.