Carpenter sentence for manslaughter

MARQUETTE – An Ishpeming man convicted of voluntary manslaughter earlier this month was sentenced to a total of 9 year, 2 months in prison this morning.

Jacques Earl Carpenter, 53, was sentenced in Marquette County Circuit Court according to state sentencing guidelines for voluntary manslaughter. The guidelines provide a range of time, determined by a number of different variables, to which someone can be sentenced.

For Carpenter, 43 to 86 months was the range negotiated and established by defense attorney Karl Numinen and Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Wiese.

Judge Thomas Solka then sentenced Carpenter to the maximum 86 months – or 7 years, two months – allowed by the guidelines.

Carpenter was convicted in early October of the manslaughter of 29-year-old David Scott Meyer Jr. on June 8, 2012. Carpenter shot and killed Meyer in the Ishpeming home where both men lived. Carpenter did not deny killing Meyer, but said he did so in self-defense after Meyer attacked him with a large hunting knife. A hunting knife with a 10-inch blade was found at the scene, though it was sticking out of a duffel bag in the living room and tested negative for any fingerprints. The knife sheath was found next to Meyer’s body, which police said was moved.

When negotiating the sentencing guidelines before Solka this morning, Meyer’s mother, aunt and girlfriend, who is the mother of his two children, addressed Carpenter and pleaded with Solka that Carpenter receive the maximum allowable sentence.

The guidelines – which are separated into subsections and scored by a point system – include a section where points may be awarded if the family of the victim has suffered psychological trauma that may need professional treatment, regardless of whether treatment has been sought. Showing that Carpenter’s actions caused psychological harm would mean a higher point total in that category and therefore a longer sentence.

“I will never forget what you did, Jack, never,” said Trudy Gustafson, Meyer’s mother. “Davey didn’t deserve to die. What really makes me angry, Jack, is that you have no remorse for what you did. You are a cold-hearted person.”

Meyer’s aunt, Lori Butler, addressed Carpenter sobbing. She said that Meyer was trying to improve his life and to be better, that he was like a caterpillar who will now never be able to become a butterfly. She said she would have rather Meyer be in prison for manufacturing methamphetamines, because then his family would be able to see him again.

Carpenter apparently hated drugs, according to trial testimony from police officers. The morning of the day Meyer was killed, Carpenter drove with him and Meyer’s friend Justin Saari to area stores to buy ingredients to cook meth. Meyer and Saari planned to make the meth in the home he and Carpenter shared, which was raised as a possible motive for Carpenter’s actions that day.

Butler said that a meth sentence in Michigan was a mandatory five years and stressed how wrong it would be for Carpenter to receive less time than that for killing Meyer.

The last person to address Carpenter was Meyer’s girlfriend, Kristen Leach. Leach talked about how difficult her life has become, raising her two sons, Tyler and Tanner, without their father around.

“Jack took their father before my youngest son was even 1 year old,” Leach said. “He never got to see his first birthday, he didn’t get to see his first steps.”

Leach said that the shooting was unnecessary.

“I think that Jack’s a cold-blooded killer and he deserves to be punished to the full extent of the law,” she said. “It’s like my other half is gone and there’s a piece of me missing all the time.”

Before beginning his voluntary manslaughter sentence, Carpenter will first serve a mandatory two years for the use of a weapon in the commission of a felony.

The seven years, two months, added to the two-year mandatory sentence, means Carpenter will serve nine years and two months of a maximum 17-year sentence before he’ll become eligible for parole.

Carpenter will receive credit for 510 days already served since his arrest. He will be remanded from the Marquette County Jail to the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.