OXFORD – Tonya Clark on Wednesday described a fast-and-furious home invasion that left her wounded and her husband, Frank, and their younger son, Taylor, dead.
Caleb Carrothers is charged with two counts of capital murder and one count of aggravated assault in the July 11, 2009, event. If guilty, Carrothers could face the death penalty.
When Tonya Clark questioned the fleeing gunman as to why he had “destroyed my family,” she said he answered that Taylor, who was known to sell marijuana, had owed him $5,000.
In the courtroom, Clark positively identified Carrothers as the attacker even while admitting she had been unable to pick him out from a photo lineup soon after the shootings.
“I was in a state of shock,” she said.
Josh Clark, Taylor’s older brother, said he was outside smoking when Taylor drove up, ran into the house, quickly followed by his passenger. Despite having had a brain injury in a wreck just months before the attack, Josh said he had quickly identified Carrothers in the photo lineup.
Lafayette County Sheriff’s Investigator Scott Mills told of evidence found at the crime scene and in Taylor’s abandoned car. Defense attorneys emphasized that no fingerprints tied Carrothers to any of the evidence.
Prosecutors played a recording of an interview among Carrothers, Mills and Investigator Alan Wilbourn several days after the killings. Carrothers’ narrative of his doings on the weekend of the Clarks’ deaths was at times vague and at other times detailed. Mills said most details, including a fight in which the defendant claimed to have been grazed by gunfire, was not corroborated by witnesses Carrothers had named or by physical evidence.
Video from an Oxford convenience store showed a man who appeared to be Carrothers, scratched and shirtless, early on the morning after the killings. A clerk testified that the man had claimed to have just been beaten by six people. Mills theorized the defendant walked in the dark through a heavily area between the Clark residence and the store. A resident of a neighborhood nearby reported having encountered a shirtless black man at 4:15 the morning after the shootings.
Prosecutors are expected to continue presenting witnesses at 8:30 a.m. today.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal