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Judge sends domestic violence charges against Prichard cop to grand jury

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 10:26 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A judge on Monday sent domestic violence charges against a Prichard police officer to a grand jury but declined to rule on a defense request that he hold the alleged victim in contempt.

Mobile County District Judge George Zoghby ruled after a lengthy preliminary hearing surrounding allegations against Officer Markell Anthony Carter, who remains jailed and on administrative leave from the Prichard Police Department.

Detective Nathaniel Kersten, a domestic violence investigator with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, testified about an incident that occurred about 8 a.m. on March 22 at Carter’s home in Chickasaw. He said the alleged victim, who was Carter’s girlfriend at the time, told investigators that the defendant accused her of cheating on him. She accused him of pointing his service revolver at her through his patrol car.

Later, according to the testimony, Carter pushed the woman to the ground and choked and lifted her off the floor. Kersten testified that the woman told investigators that Carter pointed his gun and Taser to her head. “I’ll kill you right here,” Carter said, according to a Chickasaw police report that Kersten read in court.

Maj. DeWayne Hill, second in command of the Prichard Police Department, testified that he reviewed footage from a Ring home surveillance system at the Carter home. He said he did not witness anything to substantiate the alleged victim’s claims, although he acknowledged that he could not see what the defendant was doing inside his patrol car.

Hill said he saw Carter walk by the woman and that she followed him toward the house.

“The clips are so short that you can’t really see any context to them,” he said. “But I didn’t see anything violent.”

Kersten also testified about a second incident that took place on Easter Sunday. Prosecutors allege that Carter violated an order that he not have contact with the victim.

The victim testified at Monday’s hearing that Carter wrote up a letter asking the Mobile District Attorney’s Office to drop the charges. She says he pressured her to sign it.

“He said that if I dropped the charges on him, he would buy me a car,” she testified.

The woman testified that she had spent the night with Carter and woke up earlier in the morning and began texting to a friend. She said Carter asked her why she was awake so early and that a physical altercation followed.

“He started to fight me in the bed,” she said.

The woman testified that Carter pulled her hair and punched her back and that they fell on to the floor. She said Carter kicked her out of the house and that when she re-entered to retrieve her bookbag, it contained only $400 of the $1,500 she had had.

Carter’s teenage niece testified that the alleged victim kicked in the door to the house and that she saw her jump on her uncle’s back. That backed the defense contention that the alleged victim was the aggressor and showed up at Carter’s house uninvited. She testified that the woman was not there the night before, and Kersten acknowledged that the woman’s cell phone GPS data did not place her at the address on April 16.

But the niece acknowledged during cross-examination that she did not actually see the alleged victim break the door. Sgt. Kenneth Thomas, a patrol supervisor with the Chickasaw Police Department, testified that the Carter’s door appeared to have been severely damaged. But he acknowledged under questing from the prosecutor that it would be hard for a woman of the alleged victim’s size to cause that much damage.

“In 28 years, it has never been a female,” he said.

The prosecution argues since the alleged victim is not a party to the case, the judge has no jurisdiction to order her not to have contact with the defendant. Zoghby said he would take the issue under advisement.

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