The Florida Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and death sentence of a Jacksonville man who killed his ex-girlfriend, her new boyfriend and her daughter.
Pinkney “Chip” Carter, now 60, was convicted of three counts of murder in 2005. The jury found he drove to his ex-girlfriend’s Arlington home and shot and killed the victims. Liz Reed, his ex-girlfriend, was 35; her boyfriend, Glenn Pafford, was 49; and her daughter, Courtney Smith, was 16.
The murders occurred in 2002. All were shot with a .22-caliber rifle Carter said he took to the home to get answers from Reed about their break-up. Reed and Pafford died instantly, and Smith died later in a hospital.
The jury voted 9-3 for death for killing Pafford and 8-4 for death for killing Reed. Circuit Judge Lance Day sentenced Carter to two death sentences for those murders and gave him a life sentence for killing Smith.
Attorney Frank Tassone argued that Carter’s trial attorneys didn’t do a good enough job defending him, saying attorneys should’ve brought in mental-health experts to testify that Carter was experiencing a mental or emotional disturbance.
Carter was defended at trial by Bill White, who was then the elected public defender in Jacksonville, and former Assistant Public Defender Alan Chipperfield.
But the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the death sentence, finding that Carter’s trial counsel did investigate his mental health, retain experts and had full psychological evaluations done.
The defense team had previously said it did not call these mental-health experts during Carter’s penalty phase because the conclusion reached by them would not have helped. Attorneys instead attempted to argue that Carter was a good guy who deserved life in prison over death.
Introducing the experts also would have allowed prosecutors to produce more evidence of Carter’s violent past. For example, Carter once held a knife to an ex-wife’s throat and was declared a sexual deviant.
After the murders, Carter fled Jacksonville, traveling through several states before ditching the murder weapon in the Rio Grande and swimming to Mexico, where he was arrested for entering the country illegally. He was released by Mexican authorities after paying a fine and then disappeared.
Carter was finally arrested Jan. 6, 2004, near Paducah, Ky., where he was working as a roofer under the alias of Rodney Vonthun. He had been picked up earlier for being drunk in public and was released the next day. But an alert Kentucky state trooper later recognized his photo on an FBI wanted poster in another police station.
This was Carter’s second appeal, the Florida Supreme Court rejected a previous appeal in 2008.
Lawyers for Carter will likely begin appealing the decision in federal court.