Judge denies ‘stand your ground’ motion ahead of murder trial

MARQUETTE – With the murder trial of Ishpeming resident Jacques Earl Carpenter just days away, defense attorney Karl Numinen asked Circuit Court Judge Thomas Solka to drop the sole charge against his client, arguing his actions were protected by what he called Michigan’s “stand your ground” law.

Arguing during a motion hearing Friday afternoon, Numinen, of Marquette firm Numinen and Pence, said the law- MCL 780.961, passed in 2006 – provides prosecutorial immunity to anyone who falls under its purview.

Numinen said Carpenter was one of those people.

The law states an individual who uses deadly force in compliance with section 2 of the self-defense act, and who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time, is not committing a crime by using that deadly force.

“One who uses deadly force in compliance with the self-defense act commits no crime,” Numinen argued.

Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Wiese said the district court testimony of eyewitness Justin Saari proved that Carpenter had not acted in self defense.

Solka agreed with Wiese, though he did point out the credibility of Saari’s testimony could be challenged during trial.

Carpenter, 52, has been charged with one count of open murder, a felony punishable by up to life in prison, in connection with the shooting death of 29-year-old David Scott Meyer Jr. which occurred June 8, 2012, inside a residence at 409 N. Second St., where both men were renting rooms.

Numinen said he will argue at trial that Carpenter acted in self defense.

Numinen also wanted the judge to exclude all autopsy photographs, two prosecutorial witnesses and any mentions of Carpenter’s so-called “prior bad acts.”

Those “bad acts” include a charge of carrying a weapon while intoxicated, though the charge was eventually dropped by the prosecution.

Numinen said the prior incident would be prejudicial to the jury and has no bearing on Carpenter’s current charge.

“(The prosecution) want(s) to say Jack Carpenter is an armed drunk and he’s dangerous,” Numinen said.

Wiese said he only wanted to use the incident, from February 2012, to potentially impeach Carpenter’s testimony, should he choose to testify and say he has never held a weapon while intoxicated.

Solka ruled against Numinen, allowing the incident to come into play during the trial as a means to impeach Carpenter.

Numinen said some autopsy photos of Meyer were “particularly gruesome,” with some showing a metal rod inserted into Meyer’s head to demonstrate how the fatal bullet traveled through his skull. He said they provided no evidentiary value to the trial and a simple drawing showing the bullet’s path would be sufficient.

Wiese argued not all the photographs should be excluded and that he was planning to only use a small portion of the autopsy photos.

Solka said he would rule on the photographs Monday, after viewing them over the weekend.

Also waiting for a Monday ruling is the defense’s request to exclude a preliminary breathe test conducted on Carpenter the day of the shooting.

Numinen said the officer who administered the test did not follow proper procedure when doing so.

Wiese said certain procedures outlined by Numinen – such as observing the subject for 15 minutes before administering the test were only required in certain instances, such as on suspicion of drunk driving.

Numinen also wanted the testimony of two members of the Michigan State Police excluded because he never received a written report of their findings from the crime scene, and said he could not properly question them on cross examination, since he didn’t know what their opinions would be.

Solka ruled against Numinen in both regards.

However, Solka did allow Numinen an additional $2,500 on top of the $3,500 he approved at an earlier hearing to pay for the travel and salary expenses of an expert witness traveling to Marquette from Lansing.

Wiese filed a motion as well, asking the judge to exclude any “hypothetical” questions that would require a witness to testify as to reasonable doubt, saying the idea of reasonable doubt should be in the sole purview of the jury.

Solka ruled against Wiese and said he would make any ruling on such issues from the bench during the trial, which is scheduled to begin with jury selection Tuesday morning.

Carpenter remains in Marquette County Jail without bond.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is jstark@miningjournal.net