ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A fugitive defendant in a fatal drunken-driving case planted afake obituary in an attempt to escape trial, according toattorneys, court records and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Byron Shane Carpenter, 30, was arrested Wednesday after ananonymous tip to MADD offices in Albuquerque.
“We were quite surprised when we found out that deathnotification had been filed,” MADD executive director LoraLee Ortiz told KRQE News 13. “We received the tip last weekand within a day and a half he was in custody.”
Carpenter’s arrest came one month after his obituary appeared in the AlbuquerqueJournal.
Weeks after the obituary was published, Carpenter’s wifecontacted his attorney, Sandy Barnhart y Chavez, saying he wasdead.
“I received a frantic and crying phone call from his wifesaying that Byron had died in a car crash in southern NewMexico,” Barnhart y Chavez said.
Carpenter faces charges of homicide by vehicle, great bodilyinjury by vehicle and aggravated driving while intoxicated from a2006 crash in Edgewood that killed a woman and severely injured herelderly stepfather.
Barnhart y Chavez filed a notice in the case April 2, notifyingthe court she had received information Carpenter had died. But shesaid errors in the obituary made her suspicious.
“I sent off to vital records a request to get an officialdeath certificate,” the defense attorney said. “Butright about then was when we found out he was in jail in LincolnCounty.”
It’s unclear how long Carpenter’s scheme would haveworked.
The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office wassuspicious, too.
“We did some research,” district attorneyspokesperson Pat Davis said. “We were unable to find a deathcertificate with the Office of the Medical Examiner.
"We were unable to find anything from vital statistics. So weasked the judge to continue the warrant until somebody could verifyone way or the other that he was not here or that he could befound.”
Crash survivor Russell Kealen, 93, told News 13 he knows verylittle about Carpenter.
“I don’t know beans from apple butter abouthim,” Kealen said. “All I was told was that he wasdrunk.”
Kealen is still recovering from injuries to both of his legs. Hewas notified this week of Carpenter’s arrest.
U.S. marshals reported finding Carpenter hiding under a pile ofrocks outside Capitan.
Barnhart y Chavez said she does not want to represent Carpenteranymore.
“I’ve been an attorney 30 years, and I’venever had a client try to fake their death before," she said."I’m flabbergasted, and I no longer want to be hisattorney.”
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