Oak Grove Parlor slayings

Edward T. Carter is led out of Christian Circuit Court after a hearing.

False and misleading information presented to a grand jury is among the reasons an ex-cop acquitted of a 1994 double homicide in Oak Grove is suing the law enforcement officer who investigated him.

Edward Carter, a former Oak Grove police officer, filed a wrongful prosecution and incarceration lawsuit Aug. 31 against Jason Newby, a former Kentucky State Police detective. Carter was incarcerated for nearly three years, from Nov. 24, 2013, through Sept. 14, 2016, when he was acquitted by a jury on charges of murder.

Carter’s attorney, Garry R. Adams, of Louisville, maintained his client’s innocence and said there was a lack of evidence against his client and he should have never been charged.

“My client filed suit because he was wrongfully charged for murders he did not commit and there was a complete lack of evidence against him,” Adams said in an email to the Kentucky New Era. “The prosecution caused my client to be incarcerated for a crime he did not commit for close to three years.  That is why he is filing this lawsuit.”

Carter, along with Frank Black Jr., was charged with murder for the deaths of 18-year-old Candance Belt and 22-year-old Gloria Ross. Belt and Ross were employees at the New Life Massage Parlor who were killed Sept. 20, 1994, in Oak Grove.

The suit states Carter was employed as a part-time custodian at the parlor in September 1994 and claims the business, owned by Tammy and Robbie Papler, was “operated as a front for a prostitution business.” The filing claims the parlor ran with “surprisingly formal policies and procedures” and said it kept a sign-in sheet and enforced a “stern condom use policy.”

Another man, former Oak Grove police detective Leslie Duncan, who was initially the lead detective on the case, was charged with complicity to murder. The charge against Duncan was dismissed the morning of the final day of proceedings after a directed verdict motion was filed by his attorney, Stephanie Ritchie-Mize, and granted by Special Judge Phillip Patton, according to New Era archives.

Carter claims he was called to the crime scene after the victims were found, but never utilized his canine unit since approximately 30 people accessed the scene before he arrived. Initially the case was handled by Oak Grove Police Department, but was transferred to Christian County Sheriff’s Office a few months later, who received assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. No charges were filed in the months following the murders.

Kentucky State Police received the case in 2006 as a cold case and remained that way until 2011 when then-detective Newby took over it. Carter, Black and Duncan were indicted in November 2013 by a Christian County grand jury.

The allegations

Newby is accused of failing to “investigate other potential suspects” and claims he “deliberately concealed facts that were consistent with (Carter’s) innocence,” though no statements as to what other suspects and what Newby concealed were given.

However, Carter’s suit argues Newby’s grand jury testimony was chock-full of false statements, omissions and a “reckless disregard for the truth,” and gives specific examples.

The suit alleges Newby told the grand jury he interviewed Tammy Papler and she said it was “common knowledge” Carter wanted to take over the business. However, there was reportedly no written statement indicating Newby had interviewed Papler.

Additionally, Newby told the grand jury Carter’s former wife, Carol, said he washed clothes when he came home the night of the murder and that she thought it was “very odd.” This statement is contradictory to Carol’s interview with the FBI, the lawsuit states, which makes no mention of Carter washing clothes, and also claims Newby never actually interviewed Carol.

Other statements the lawsuit say show the extent of the false and misleading information given by Newby to the grand jury includes the dates Carter and Duncan were roommates. Newby reportedly stated they lived together less than a year before the murders, but Carter claims they were not roommates for at least two years before the murders.

Newby also testified about a disappearance in Oak Grove in 1992 where Carter was assigned to the case as a canine officer, however the lawsuit claims Carter didn’t become a canine officer until April 1994.

Finally, the lawsuit alleges there was no evidence Carter saw other girls leaving the parlor before the murders, no evidence he contacted Black and no evidence as to what Carter said to Black on the “fabricated phone call.” Newby is quoted in the suit as telling the grand jury, “My opinion is he went there, too. He saw the girls leave, contacted Mr. Black, said there’s two left in there.”

Carter claims any probable cause for the grand jury to indict him was based on the false testimony and falsified evidence by Newby. It also states Newby suppressed exculpatory evidence, fabricated evidence, pressured witnesses into making statements incriminating against Carter and covering up his own misconduct.

“In Newby’s drive to pursue Carter’s wrongful prosecution and incarceration, Newby deliberately engaged in arbitrary and conscious-shocking conduct that contravened fundamental canons of decency and fairness and violated Carter’s substantive due process rights under the 14th Amendment,” the suit argues. “Overall, Carter’s treatment by Newby offends principles of justice so rooted in the traditions and conscience of the citizens of the United States so as to be ranked as fundamental.”

The lawsuit doesn’t give any motive for why they believe Newby made false statements.

Newby is listed as the sole defendant and the lawsuit states he’s being sued “in his individual capacity.” Kentucky State Police is not named in the suit, but stated the agency was unable to comment on the lawsuit and pointed out, since it’s a civil suit, the state police wouldn’t be able to comment anyway, according to an email from Trooper Sean Wint, public affairs officer for KSP Post 2.

The New Era unsuccessfully tried to reach Newby about the lawsuit. It’s unclear if he has obtained representation. Newby retired from the Kentucky State Police before joining Hopkinsville Police Department as an officer in October 2016.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages to be awarded to Carter, in an amount to be determined at trial, and for a trial by jury.

Reach Melissa Pettitt at 270-887-3226 or mpettitt@kentuckynewera.com.

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