Carlette Parker is on death row for a brutal robbery and murder in North Carolina. According to court documents Carlette Parker was suppose to be taking care of an elderly woman but somewhere along the way she decided to take everything the man had. Carlette Parker would gain access to the man’s bank account and proceeded to drain it and in order to cover up the fraud she drowned the elderly woman in a bathtub. Carlette Parker would be arrested, convicted and sent to death row in North Carolina
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The State’s evidence at trial tended to show the following facts: On 12 May 1998, defendant kidnapped and drowned Alice Covington (the victim). At the time of her death, the victim was eighty-six years old, stood five feet one and one-half inches tall, and weighed eighty-eight pounds. Defendant was thirty-four years old and weighed approximately 230 to 240 pounds. From December 1996 to March 1997, defendant served as the home health-care worker for Charles Holtz, a close friend of the victim. The victim and Holtz were both residents at Springmoor Retirement Village in Raleigh.
On the morning of 12 May 1998, defendant and the victim saw each other at a Kroger parking lot on Creedmoor Road in Raleigh. Between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m., three witnesses saw the victim and a heavyset black woman struggling on Strickland Road. According to the witnesses, when the heavyset woman attacked the victim, the victim tried to get away by hitting the heavyset woman over the head with her purse.
Later that afternoon, against the victim’s will, defendant drove the victim to the First Union Market Street teller window in Smithfield and withdrew $2,500 from the victim’s account. A heavyset black woman gave the teller a withdrawal slip and the victim’s driver’s license. The teller looked into the car and saw the victim in the passenger seat, leaning against the car door. The victim was not moving and appeared to be napping.
Defendant drove the victim back to the Kroger parking lot; moved her to defendant’s Ford Fiesta hatchback; and drove to defendant’s trailer in Angier, North Carolina, where the victim drowned in the bathtub. Defendant undressed the victim’s body, washed the victim’s clothes, redressed the body, and put the body in the hatchback of defendant’s car. Defendant then left in a separate vehicle and drove to a family party. After leaving the party, defendant drove around for several hours.
The next morning, defendant returned to the Kroger parking lot and transferred the victim’s body to the front seat of the victim’s car. Defendant drove the victim’s car around Raleigh, Hillsborough, and Burlington for several hours. Finally, defendant left the victim’s body in the car on a dirt road in Morrisville. Defendant walked to Davis Drive and caught a ride to a gas station. Defendant took a cab back to her car, went home, and drank wine coolers.
On 14 May 1998, a passerby discovered the victim’s body and notified the police. The victim’s body was lying across the front seat, with her head propped against the driver’s side door, her chest under the steering wheel, and her feet on the right front floorboard. Investigators found substantial bruising around the victim’s face, neck, hands, upper part of both arms, upper left back and shoulder area, and left wrist. The victim also had a laceration on her left wrist and lower left leg. The victim was dressed in blue slacks and a light pink nylon jacket. There was reddish discoloration on the lower portion of the jacket. Testing conducted prior to trial revealed that a pepper-spray container found in defendant’s car emitted spray that left a pink stain on a clean sheet.
During their investigation, police conducted a series of interviews with defendant. During the first interview, defendant stated she saw the victim on 12 May 1998 in a Kroger parking lot between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. Defendant said she and the victim drove to a car wash and then to the victim’s home. Defendant said she remained at the victim’s home for two to three minutes and then left. After defendant made this statement, SBI Agent M.B. East told defendant that the victim had been found dead in her car in Morrisville. Defendant, remaining calm and emotionless, responded, “Oh really?” At the conclusion of the interview, defendant denied killing the victim or knowing who did. Defendant also denied having recently been to Morrisville or any banks in Smithfield.
During the second interview, defendant’s demeanor changed. At first, defendant was conversational. Agent East told defendant that witnesses saw her in an altercation with the victim on Strickland Road. East also showed defendant a copy of the $2,500 check drawn from the victim’s account and told defendant that a teller described the person who accompanied the victim when the money was withdrawn. Defendant then became visibly nervous. Her leg shook, and her knee bounced up and down. Agent East again asked defendant if she knew who murdered the victim. The defendant responded, “Possibly.” However, defendant denied assaulting or accidentally killing the victim. While taking defendant home after the interview, Agent East heard defendant say, “I’m going to lose my job,” and “I won’t be able to take care of old people anymore.”
On 16 May 1998, police conducted two more interviews with defendant. Defendant told Agent East and Raleigh Police Detective K.W. Andrews that she had a story and it would be kind of “far-fetched” but that she wanted to come clean and say what had transpired. As in her first interview, defendant said she saw the victim at the Kroger parking lot, and they went to a car wash. At this second interview, defendant claimed she ran into the victim between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. as opposed to between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. Defendant’s story also became ambiguous about whether she and the victim rode together to the victim’s home or took separate cars. Defendant said that after going to the victim’s house, she and the victim returned to the Kroger parking lot; got into defendant’s car; and drove to the First Union in Smithfield, where defendant cashed a check for $2,500. Defendant claimed the victim gave her this money to help defendant with her doll business. Defendant claimed she never stopped on Strickland Road with the victim.
According to defendant, she then drove the victim to defendant’s trailer in Angier. The victim sat on the commode in a bathroom, and defendant filled the bathtub with water. Defendant said she left the bathroom, and when she returned, the victim’s head had fallen into the water. Defendant sat the victim up and left the room again. When she returned, the victim’s head was submerged. Defendant said she grabbed the victim by the hair, pulled her out of the water, and tore the victim’s shirt. Defendant slapped the victim across the face a couple of times, but the victim did not respond. Defendant vaguely described how the victim’s head then slammed into the floor. Defendant carried the victim into the living room and placed her on the floor. Defendant removed the victim’s clothes, washed and dried them, and redressed the victim without the torn shirt.
Defendant said the victim was unresponsive but the victim’s hand may have twitched. Defendant admitted she did not perform CPR or call 911 despite being trained as a health-care professional who was certified in CPR. Defendant put the body in the hatchback of her Ford Fiesta and drove her other automobile, a truck, to a party in Durham. Defendant left the party and drove around for several hours before returning home. Once at home, defendant got into her Ford Fiesta and drove to a hotel where her husband was staying on Highway 70 East. The victim’s body was still in the hatchback. Defendant did not tell her husband what had happened that day.
Defendant said she returned to the Kroger parking lot the next morning around 6:45 a.m. and moved the victim’s body to the front seat of the victim’s car. Defendant said the victim’s body smelled, so she put two pillows on it. Defendant drove around Hillsborough and Burlington, ending up on a dirt road in Morrisville around 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. According to defendant, the car got stuck in the road, and defendant left the victim’s body in the car with the engine running. Defendant caught a ride to a gas station, called a cab, returned home, and drank wine coolers.
In an additional interview, defendant admitted throwing the victim’s purse out of the car window near Falls Lake. Defendant said she was afraid her fingerprints might be lifted from the purse and she might be implicated in the victim’s death. Further, although she had previously denied it, defendant admitted she had a confrontation with the victim on Strickland Road. Defendant initially said she merely stopped the car to adjust the victim’s seat, get gas, and massage a cramp from the victim’s leg. At this point in the interview, however, defendant paused to consult with her attorney. Defendant then admitted she forcefully took the victim to the bank and the trailer against the victim’s will. Defendant also conceded that although the victim had previously voluntarily written the withdrawal slip defendant used in Smithfield, the victim changed her mind about giving defendant the money before defendant forcefully took her to Smithfield to withdraw it. Defendant stated she and the victim did have a disagreement on Strickland Road and the victim hit defendant with her purse. Defendant admitted she then grabbed the victim by her shirt and threw her into the car. Defendant also said the victim’s shirt was actually torn when defendant forced the victim back into the car.
Dr. James Ronald Edwards, who was accepted at trial as an expert in pathology, performed the first autopsy on the victim on 15 May 1998. The autopsy revealed no obvious cause of death. There was no visible sign of an acute heart attack, stroke, brain hemorrhage, blood clot, aneurysm, or external strangulation. Dr. Edwards noticed indications of external trauma, including bruises on the victim’s right and left wrists, left shoulder, face, and left side of the neck. Dr. Edwards also noted the lungs were congested and edematous. He testified this fluid in the lungs could be caused by drowning. Dr. Edwards concluded that a natural cause of death was not documented, but that “some external trauma appears to be present” and that “additional history may be helpful in coming to a final conclusion.”
Dr. Robert L. Thompson, who was accepted at trial as an expert in forensic pathology, performed a second autopsy. This autopsy revealed no obvious fatal injury and no evidence of strangulation or disease in the victim. Moreover, Dr. Thompson specifically testified the victim did not die of a heart attack. Dr. Thompson further testified that two small, round, sightly reddened areas on the surface of the victim’s skin could have been caused by a stun gun found in defendant’s possession. In an amendment to the death certificate, Dr. Thompson listed the immediate cause of death as “drowning” and the manner of death as “homicide.”
Dr. Wells Edmunson, who was accepted at trial as an expert in internal medicine, was the victim’s doctor for twelve years. Dr. Edmunson testified that the victim’s overall physical and mental health was excellent. Dr. Edmunson stated that the victim was an especially vibrant person for her age and that her blood pressure, respiration, and cholesterol readings were normal at her most recent physical.
Defendant presented evidence from Dr. Page Hudson that prior EKGs performed on the victim indicated some heart abnormalities. Dr. Hudson opined the victim could have died from a cardiac arrhythmia. Dr. Hudson also stated, however, that cardiac arrhythmia could result from stress and that a stun gun would produce such stress in a person. Dr. Hudson further testified that he had not read defendant’s statement to police and that reading this statement would be helpful. Finally, Dr. Hudson testified, “[T]here’s an excellent chance that [the victim] drowned.”
The State also introduced evidence concerning defendant’s criminal history and prior conduct at area banks. On 7 August 1995, defendant pled guilty to sixteen felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses from eighty-five-year-old Catherine Stevenson, for whom defendant provided care. J.C. Holder, who worked in May 1995 as an investigator with NationsBank, testified that he had investigated unusual activity in Stevenson’s account. Holder went to Stevenson’s home and asked her to come talk to a customer representative at the bank about the rapid depletion of her account. Defendant was with Stevenson at the time and drove Stevenson to the bank. When she arrived at the bank, Stevenson appeared angry and upset with defendant and did not want defendant “to have anything to do with her.” At the bank, defendant admitted forging unauthorized withdrawals. Defendant said she made the unauthorized withdrawals when Stevenson was in the car. The amount missing from Stevenson’s account was around $44,000.
After defendant pled guilty to those charges, the trial court suspended defendant’s sentence and put her on probation for forty-eight months. The trial court also ordered defendant to pay restitution in monthly payments of $920.43. By 1 April 1998, defendant was over $4,000 behind in restitution payments. Cathy Clayton, the chief probation and parole officer in Johnston County, testified defendant expressed concern about how she would make her payments.
On 30 April 1998, defendant cashed a $2,500 check signed by Alice Covington and drawn on her Merrill Lynch cash management account. The transaction occurred at the drive-through window of the Crabtree First Union. Defendant was alone when she cashed the check. Later that day, defendant brought three money orders to the probation office. The three orders totaled $2,000 and had been purchased at the Crabtree Post Office. This post office is within sight of the Crabtree First Union. When asked where she got so much money, defendant responded that she had been making a lot of dolls.
On 8 May 1998, defendant attempted to cash a $600.00 check at the drive-through window at a First Union in Dunn, North Carolina. The teller informed defendant that she could not cash the check because defendant’s account showed a low balance. Defendant began yelling, honking her horn, and causing a disturbance. The teller eventually had to walk away from the window. Defendant came inside the bank and was again advised the check could not be cashed. Defendant began cursing and screaming. The police were called, but defendant left before they arrived.
As a preliminary matter, we note that North Carolina’s Rules of Appellate Procedure require that each party’s statement of the facts be “supported by references to pages in the transcript of proceedings, the record on appeal, or exhibits, as the case may be.” N.C. R.App. P. 28(b)(4); see also N.C. R.App. P. 28(c). In the present case, both the State and defendant failed to meet this requirement. The parties’ statements of the facts at times go on for several pages before providing a transcript reference to several different volumes or to numerous consecutive pages in a volume. While we hold neither party in default in the present appeal, we encourage future parties to provide specific and continual transcript references.
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Carlette Parker is currently incarcerated at the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women
- Why Is Carlette Parker On Death Row
Carlette Parker was sentenced to death for the robbery and murder of an elderly woman she was paid to look after
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