Jason Carter was accused of killing his mother for money. He was recently found not guilty. He pointed the finger at his father, who then sued him for wrongful death. Gene Rossi came on Law & Crime Network to discuss the case with host, Bob Bianchi.
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Bob Bianchi and Gene Rossi Discuss the Jason Carter Trial
April 6th, 2019
Robert Bianchi: Welcome back to the Law and Crime Network, my name is Bob Bianchi. Happy Monday to you, it’s great to be back with you, we’ve got a lot on the plate. I’ll be with you from twelve to three, the Law and Crime Network, gavel to gavel coverage of some of the most fascinating trials across the United States, as well as legal cases that are developing day in and day out. Wow what an emotional verdict and you know, this network covers these trials and how our guys find them, I don’t know, but they are razor thin kind of cases and are really interesting and give us a lot of opportunity for real trial lawyers, real seasoned people, who have really been in that courtroom, to break it down like no other network in the world, to be honest with you, not to mention the United States in particular. And one of those very people is my friend Gene Rossi, thirty years with the DOJ, sort of over a hundred trials, I’m getting tired to telling all these credentials, it makes me feel better that Gene Rossi war room down there at the DOJ, and he’s a regular guest on my show, and a Law and Crime legal analyst. So, Gene, welcome to the show. I hope you’re having a great Monday.
Gene Rossi: Good afternoon, April Fool’s Day.
Robert Bianchi: Yes, yes, and so let’s say, speaking of April Fool’s Day, you know, Gene last week I know we broke this case down a lot when it was going on and we found that there was a kind of like, a lot of holes in the case, specifically in terms of the prosecution’s position with this, as well as, some discovery, quote unquote, violations. Now I’m putting discovery violations in quotes because it was a big issue that happened during the course of the trial were over a hundred pages of information that the defense argued was breeding material, that was material that is favorable to the defense was produced. But I had an opportunity to speak to Ed Bull, he’s the Prosecutor out their Gene, he made a very bold move, he’s the head guy, and you know I love that. The head guy actually rolled up his sleeves, went in there, and tried this very difficult case. And they knew it was difficult but his argument was that I believe in my heart when I asked him will you look for the other murderer potentially, if this guy’s found not guilty, this will always keep those investigative ends open, but I believe in my heart we had the right guy. Sounds to me like when you feel that way there’s not a lot of law enforcement assets that would be looking for anyone else.
Gene Rossi: That’s correct if you feel that when you presented that case to the grand jury, and I assume they did that, that you have in your heart I believe that you have a prime aphasia case and a reasonable probability of conviction. I can say in my almost thirty years of Bob, that I think there was maybe one case where we got the wrong guy, but what happened was we arrested somebody who had the same name as my defendant, and then when we brought him in we realized we had the wrong guy. So, I never went to trial against the wrong guy, I probably could not sleep with myself for the rest of my life if I ever did that.
Robert Bianchi: Yeah it seems like a really squared away guy after having interviewed him, but nevertheless sometimes we get pigeonholed into what we call confirmation bias, the twelve jurors he said he’s going to actually listen to what they have to say. I guess they’re allowed to speak to them out there and find out whether it was that they just didn’t meet the burden to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt or did they genuinely believe he was innocent. That is a huge distinction in the law. But let’s go to something that was very compelling and used by the Prosecution in the case as a very powerful tool for them, although ultimately it didn’t get him over the goal line. And that is the 911 call that the defendant Jason Carter made after discovering his mom’s dead body, or as the prosecution alleges, after he murdered her.
Robert Bianchi: 911 calls are very powerful evidence, they were in murder cases that I’ve tried but they can cut both ways, the question really is, is he acting hysterically like that just because he’s acting or is, he genuinely emotionally upset. And of course, if he’s genuinely emotionally upset that could mean he did it or he didn’t do it, but here he said he doesn’t know what happened over and over again. So, you can you take that for what it’s worth the jury, bit it is one piece of evidence. But another significant piece of evidence in the case came from Curtis Setton, he is a friend and a former first responder who is describing when he first got to the scene said, actually went to the scene and said what Jason was like. Now, you have not only the 911 call with the defendant himself but you have somebody else who knows him well, explaining what his emotional temperament was like. Let’s take a look.
Attorney: Went on scene who was present?
Curtis Setton: When I arrived on the scene and drove up the driveway. Bill and Jason Carter were present outside the residence.
Attorney: So, were you the first emergency responder to arrive on scene?
Curtis Setton: Yes, I was.
Attorney: What did you observe when you first arrived?
Curtis Setton: First got to the residence, driving up the residents, I had some trouble finding the actual sign for their, because it was partially obscured by a tree, once I found it, I drove up into the driveway. I had planned on, usually I would pull my vehicle farther forward in the driveway to make room for the ambulance and other responding personnel, however, I was being interacted with, rather quickly by Jason and Bill at that point in time.
Attorney: Can you describe for the jury Bill Carter’s demeanor when you first encountered him?
Curtis Setton: Bill Carter was visibly upset, he made some statements that something’s happened to Shirley, I then walked up towards the residents but he was visibly upset at that point in time.
Attorney: What about Jason’s demeanor?
Curtis Setton: I wouldn’t describe his demeanor as acting hysterically, he was upset but acting more in a hysterical manner, saying a lot of things.
Robert Bianchi: So, Gene Rossi, what we have there is a 911 call, and then followed up with a friend. And what I like about the idea of the friend is that, if you believe the friend, the friend knows, you know, we all know one another, it’s a very nuance thing but it’s so obvious. They know you, how you respond to stimuli, they know your general demeanor, your temperament, and so somebody who knows you has a better idea of whether or not you’re genuinely upset about something or whether you’re fabricating, do you agree with that?
Gene Rossi: Oh boy, I’ve been married for thirty-four years, and I can I can tell when my wife is in a great mood, or bad mood, a medium mood, and nobody else can tell. Absolutely.
Robert Bianchi: So, this testimony, I mean if you feel so far with the 911 call, no we don’t ultimately know what happened, we also know that the jury came back with a not guilty on it, but in this particular case given the fact there is no real forensic, solid forensic evidence, other than relying on a safe and a gun case, which the defendants prints appeared with other people. These witnesses don’t seem to be great for the prosecution.
Gene Rossi: No, and the 911 call I remember listening to this about a week ago, I thought he had on a little bit of an acting aspect to it, and then you contrast it with Curtis Setton, who went to the, was first responder, it was sort of a dichotomy between the 911 and his demeanor to the first responder and friend. And you know what Bob, we don’t know what the jury was hung up on, we don’t know why they got to not guilty. I do know they won a wrongful death suit, so one jury agreed with the father who was the plaintiff. So, we don’t know what caused the not guilty.
Robert Bianchi: And Gene, the wrongful death suit that you’re talking about was, that was filed by the husband, or the father, and with a preponderance of the evidence in the civil case but with out a lot of information, that later came out in the criminal case. And I talked a Prosecutor Ed Bull about that whether you know, it’s kind of it’s odd that civil suit to precedes a criminal case. He indicated, and I’m glad to hear this, that he tried to convince the family not the file a civil suit because the state’s witnesses would be cross examined and then subject to cross examination in the criminal case, yet, they were in the court room in the civil case watching everything that was going on in developing leads. What are your thoughts about that?
Gene Rossi: You should never allow a civil case to go before criminal case for the reason you just said, and at the federal level, if you have a federal criminal case, and a parallel civil case, the judge will always stay the civil proceeding and let the criminal case take its course. Because you get deposition you know transcripts, it’s very unhelpful for Prosecution to have a civil case go first.
Robert Bianchi: You know, as an opposite side to that coin though Gene, where some argued and the defense certainly argued here, that this was actually providing information through the defendant to the police that they otherwise would be unable to get because he has a right to remain silent. But because he had to defend himself in the civil suit, they got data that actually hurt him right you know as far as this case. And you know, Ed Bull said it broke both ways with respect to that civil suit going before the criminal case. We got to go to break, stay tuned, we’re going to have more Gene Rossi on the other end of the break. Okay welcome back, we’re going over the Jason Carter case. Gene Rossi, really quick before we go to another clip, my question is found responsible in the civil case, the defendant is found not guilty for the murder in the criminal case, but won’t the state just re try the murder charges and eventually get a guilty finding in this case?
Gene Rossi: You mean in the Jason Carter case? I thought it was a not guilty?
Robert Bianchi: Yeah so won’t they just go to court and retry the case again?
Gene Rossi: No, it’s an acquittal, double jeopardy.
Robert Bianchi: Are you sure?
Gene Rossi: Yeah, if you tried a murder case at the state level.
Robert Bianchi: April Fool’s Gene.
Gene Rossi: Oh god, you got me good.
Robert Bianchi: I knew, I was going to see how you were going to get me out of that. I told all our chatters to get ready because I was going to give an April Fool’s question to Gene Rossi. You did great Gene.
Gene Rossi: You know Bob, I swear to god, I know I was going through my mind going, what am I missing, what am I missing,
Robert Bianchi: Well, I’ll take that as a sign of respect that you think that I can say something that would be so stupid right. Hey Gene, only kidding, but listen this you got a little fun with these cases Gene, but listen to what the not guilty, and obviously just for purposes of the record. The state can’t retry a case when there’s a not guilty on the basis of double jeopardy. One of the people that testified in the case was the dad of the defendant, the husband of the woman killed, Bill Carter gave very dramatic emotional testimony. Bill Carter was the one who filed a civil suit against his son, Jason Carter, got a verdict against the defendant, which I suspect could potentially get reversed in that civil case based upon newly discovered evidence that was withheld from the attorneys, all the way through the criminal trial right to the end of the criminal trial and then came out that maybe a reversal in that civil case. Nevertheless, he suffered a tragic loss and his testimony was very compelling. Yeah Gene, excellent commentary as always. Well listen we got a lot more going on Scandaritto, Jonchuck, a lot more in the Carter case, a lot more of everything on the Law and Crime Network but we got to do a little business, going to go to a break. Stick with us we’ll be right back