The third day of Kyler Carriker’s trial has come to an end. The prosecution and the defense both gave their opening statements to the jury this morning, but only one side told the jurors what actually happened.
The prosecution opened with this inflammatory phrase: “Guns, drugs, money”, and then made the false claim that Carriker “wanted to sell drugs to Dennis Haynes”.
This is a false statement, because Carriker had never met, spoken to, nor heard of Dennis Haynes until Haynes arrived at Kyle Beltz’ home, uninvited. Haynes entered the home, and within minutes had shot Carriker twice, once in the abdomen, and once in the leg, before shooting Ronald Betts, who died of his wounds.
Carriker, upon being shot, laid on the floor and played dead, praying that he would not be killed.
The prosecution went on to point out inconsistencies in the initial statements that Carriker gave to police detectives the night he was shot. The prosecution failed to mention that the initial interviews took place just after police removed Carriker from the hospital mere hours after he had been shot, while he was in extreme pain, likely in shock, and sedated on heavy pain narcotics administered by doctors, which should render those statements inadmissible in court.
In listening to the prosecution’s heavily edited version of this story, one could easily come away with the false impression that Carriker was engaged in a shootout, despite the fact that he never held a loaded gun, let alone fired one in this incident. In fact, the state has not even accused Carriker of firing a shot in this case.
Defense attorney Sarah Swain then began her opening statements, starting at the beginning of the story, when Carriker was asked to find marijuana by a former high school classmate in a chance encounter, while stopped at a railroad crossing, waiting on a train to pass.
Carriker and the former classmate, Lorenzo Spires, exchanged phone numbers, and when Carriker’s name was entered into Spire’s phone, his number was assigned the name “Hit”, because that is what he was to the people who eventually showed up to rob and kill, a hit, or a mark, a target… a victim.
Spires ended up giving his phone to a man named Clifton Parks. Parks was a stranger to Carriker, and to this day, the two have never met. Parks claimed to want to purchase a quarter pound of marijuana, but never showed up to complete the transaction.
Instead, Spires came to Kyle Beltz’ home with two other men, John Carter, and Haynes. Carriker had never met nor spoken to Haynes or Carter. Carriker had no idea that these men were known gang members, or that Haynes had recently been acquitted on a separate, unrelated murder charge.
In their trials, Parks and Spires testified that they never had any money, nor any intention of purchasing marijuana, that night. Their only intention was to commit robbery and murder.
When these strangers arrived, Carriker informed Kyle Beltz, the owner of the home, and Ronald Betts, the drug dealer who was shot and killed by Haynes, that he had a bad feeling and that he did not want the deal to happen. He may have felt he could trust Spires, and, by extension, trust Parks, but when Parks did not show and these other men did, Carriker no longer wanted to participate in the situation.
Carter, Haynes, and Spires were all given plea bargains for reduced sentences, but when Swain mentioned Haynes’ plea bargain in her opening statement, the prosecution objected, and the jury was removed. While the jury was outside of the courtroom, the prosecution argued that Swain could not mention the plea bargains of these men unless the prosecution called these men to testify.
The prosecution went on to state that only Spires would testify for the prosecution, so Swain could not inform the jury of Haynes’, Beltz’, or Carter’s plea arrangements. The prosecution did not go on to explain why these key players in this incident would not be testifying for the state, even though they were the only people who were present and who witnessed the events that unfolded.
Read more about Kyler Carriker’s case: