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Jealousy portrayed as shooting motive in Fall Branch murder

February 6th, 2013 12:52 pm by Becky Campbell

Jealousy portrayed as shooting motive in Fall Branch murder

The daughters of a man on trial for first-degree murder testified their dad was upset his ex-wife — their mother — had a boyfriend, but they conflicted on how intense his reaction to that became in the weeks leading up to the boyfriend’s death.
James Henry Allen, 51, is on trial this week on the murder charge as well as a charge of possession of a prohibited weapon. He’s accused of shooting Rick Carter, 45, through the door of Deborah Franklin’s home at 175 Cherry Lane, Fall Branch, on May 12, 2010.
Prosecutors and investigators believe Allen was obsessed with Franklin and angry she had started dating Carter and allowed him to move in to the same home Allen once shared with her. The night of the shooting, Allen retrieved a gun from a nearby house, then allegedly waited outside Franklin’s home until Carter was at the door. Six shots penetrated the door. Only one actually hit Carter, but it was a fatal wound.
After the shooting, Allen left and hid in some nearby woods for two days before finally surrendering.
The trial began Tuesday and has moved quickly, with all testimony, jury instructions and closing arguments wrapping up by late Wednesday afternoon. Around 5:15 p.m., Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp offered the jury panel the option of starting deliberation or going home. The panel opted for the latter.
Allen’s daughter, Leslie Nelson, a witness for the state, told jurors her father was irrational when it came to Franklin and Carter’s relationship. She said Allen made verbal threats about the new couple and she would call her mother and warn her of potential problems.
She also recalled having phone conversations with him and realizing he was outside her mother’s home when she heard him talking to her mother’s dog, Peaches. In the days prior to Carter’s death, Nelson said her father “called me a traitor,” and threatened to disown her if she ever invited Carter to her home.
Nelson said her father said he would “put an end to them both and have someone take him out.”
Jamie Allen, Nelson’s sister and the younger daughter of James Allen and Deborah Franklin, testified her father was not happy about Franklin and Carter’s relationship, but he was more of a threat to himself than them.
In fact, she said, her father attempted suicide in January 2010 and often threatened to harm himself.
Jamie Allen was the only defense witness.
Earlier in the day, jurors heard testimony about the 911 call about the shooting, testimony about how Carter died and evidence about the gun used to kill him.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Teresa Campbell testified that Carter had one bullet wound and two bullet fragment wounds. The bullet entered Carter’s chest, went through his left lung and perforated a subclavian vein, which she called “a big vein.”
That led to Carter essentially bleeding to death, Campbell said. Carter lost a total of 1,600 cubic centimeters of blood from the injury.
The most chilling thing the jury heard this morning was the 911 call Franklin made after Carter fell to the floor just inside the door after he was shot. On that call, Franklin is frantic, sobbing, begging Carter to breathe and talk to her as the 911 emergency dispatcher tried to calm her and get information about what happened.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Steve Scott, a firearms identification expert, testified that the bullet removed from Carter’s body “conclusively” was fired from the rifle submitted by Washington County sheriff’s investigators. After Allen’s arrest on the murder charge, he led officers to a wooded area in Fall Branch where they found that gun hidden under brush beside a large tree.
At the time of his arrest, Allen also had a handgun, but Scott said it did not match any bullets officers recovered from the crime scene.
Defense attorneys Bill Francisco and Bill Donaldson raised several issues Wednesday. First, they argued the 911 call should not be allowed in the trial because on the call Franklin told the dispatcher that she though her ex-husband shot Carter, even though she had not seen Allen outside the mobile home. Cupp denied that suppression and allowed the jury to hear the call.
Also, the defense has suggested through cross examination of witnesses that a shot could have been fired from inside the mobile home. In Allen’s statement to investigators, he said he’d been told Carter had started carrying a weapon and he thought Carter was reaching for a gun when Allen shot at the front door of Franklin’s home.
Carter was standing inside the mobile home looking out the window when he was shot.
Cupp said that because the defense made “such a big deal” about that possibility, he would allow the state to have Scott testify about trajectory analysis of the window. Trajectory, or the path of the bullet, would created a particular pattern in the glass, Scott said, and in his opinion the direction was outside to inside the mobile home.
Defense attorneys have tried to pick away at the state’s case and were critical about how that glass window was — or was not — preserved. In transit from the crime scene to the sheriff’s office after the shooting, most of the glass broke out.
But there was just enough glass left around the window frame that Scott was able to show the jury a portion of the bullet hole and the direction it traveled.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Allen faces life in prison. The jury can also consider three lesser-included charges if it has reasonable doubt of the premeditation required by first-degree murder. Those lesser charges are second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and criminally negligent homicide.
Allen is being held on a $301,000 bond while the case is pending.
Jury deliberations will begin today at 9 a.m.
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Earlier report:
A first-degree murder trial from a May 2010 shooting in Fall Branch continues today with jurors hearing the 911 call about the shooting, testimony about how the victim died and evidence about the gun used to kill him.
James Henry Allen is charged with first-degree murder and possession of a prohibited weapon in the May 12, 2010 shooting death of Rick Carter. Prosecutors and investigators believe Allen was obsessed with his ex-wife, Deborah Franklin, and angry she had started dating Carter and allowed him to move in to the same home Allen once shared with her.
The trial began Tuesday. So far, today's testimony has focused on a forensic pathologist testifying that Carter had one bullet wound and two bullet fragment wounds. The bullet entered Carter's chest, went through his left lung and perforated a subclavian vein, which she called "a big vein."
That led to Carter essentially bleeding to death. Dr. Teresa Campbell, the pathologist, testified Carter lost a total of 1600 cc of blood from the injury.
The most chilling thing the jury heard this morning was the 911 call Franklin made after Carter fell to the floor right inside the door after he was shot. On that call, Franklin is frantic, sobbing, begging Carter to breathe and talk to her as the 911 emergency dispatcher tried to calm her and get information about what happened.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Steve Scott, a firearms identification expert, testified that the bullet removed from Carter's body "conclusively" was fired from the rifle submitted by Washington County sheriff's investigators. After Allen's arrest on the murder charge, he led officers to a wooded area in Fall Branch where they found that gun hidden under brush beside a large tree.
At the time of his arrest, Allen also had a handgun, but Scott said it did not match any bullets officers recovered from the crime scene.
Defense attorneys, Bill Francisco and Bill Donaldson, have raised several issues today as well. First, they argued that the 911 call should not be allowed in the trial because on the call Franklin told the dispatcher that she though her ex-husband shot Carter, even though she had not seen Allen outside the trailer. Judge Robert Cupp denied that suppression and allowed the jury to hear the call.
Also, the defense has suggested through cross examination of witnesses that a shot could have been fired from inside the trailer. In Allen's statement to investigators, he said he'd been told Carter had started carrying a weapon and he thought Carter was reaching for a gun when Allen shot at the front door of Franklin's home.
Carter was standing inside the trailer looking out the window when he was shot.
Cupp said that because the defense made 'such a big deal' about that possibility, he would allow the state to have Scott testify about trajectory analysis of the window. Trajectory, or the path, of the bullet would created a particular pattern in the glass, Scott said during a jury-out hearing.

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