Sequatchie County Jurors Hear Interview Of Woman Charged In Roddy Carden Murder

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - by Judy Frank
More than three years after Bledsoe County resident Clifford “Roddy” Carden Jr. was murdered on Feb. 2, 2011, in southern Sequatchie County, a murder trial for the Graysville woman accused of firing the shot that killed him is finally underway.

Jurors spent most of the day Wednesday listening to a series of prosecution witnesses, many of them law enforcement personnel.
They were also trying to make sense of a videotape that showed two officers interrogating Susan Lynette Baker shortly after her arrest six days after the fatal shooting.

During that interview, Ms. Baker admitted she was the one who fired the shot that killed Mr. Carden. Later in the day, prosecutors rested and the defense began presenting its proof. The trial will resume Thursday morning.

According to evidence, Ms. Baker was arrested after her accomplice, Whitwell resident Thomas Bettis, approached Sequatchie County authorities and told them that Ms. Baker shot the victim with his own gun while he was giving her and Bettis a ride in his 1996 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
 
Bettis reportedly told police he helped Ms. Baker dump the body in the Sequatchie River, where it was later found, because he was afraid she might also kill him.
 
The lengthy interview with Ms. Baker began almost gently, the videotape showed, with Sequatchie County Investigator Jody Lockhart telling her that Bettis already had been interviewed and identified her as the killer.

“Now we want to know your side, that’s all we want,” Officer Lockhart told the defendant as she sat hunched under a large blanket in an interrogation room chair.

Ms. Baker, who cried intermittently throughout the sometimes incoherent session, appeared confused and unable to recall details. Occasionally, as she attempted to explain what happened, her voice gradually become fogged with emotion and, eventually, rose to an unintelligible wail.

As the interview proceeded it became increasingly strident, with officers confronting Ms. Baker when she made statements they said they knew could not be true.

“We understand that you’re scared,” Officer Lockhart told her at one point, “but we already know quite a bit. We’re pretty good policemen, we’ve been at this for a while . . . . (Bettis) didn’t kill Clifford. You killed Clifford. Didn’t you?”

Jurors, like others in the courtroom, appeared to have trouble understanding some of the dialogue on the videotape.

During one break, the judge told attorneys out of the jury’s presence, a juror had approached a court officer and asked if they could get a transcript.

The answer to that question, he and attorneys agreed, was no.

“We don’t have a verified copy of the transcript,” the judge explained to jurors after they returned to the courtroom. “This videotape is the best evidence we have, and you are to rely on the best evidence.”

Throughout the afternoon Ms. Baker, whose head was not turned toward the video, sat silent and unmoving. In the courtroom behind her, however, some observers appeared to become increasingly riled.

A stout man sitting close to the front of the courtroom on the prosecutor’s side, for example, watched the video closely. Every few minutes, however, he turned toward the defense table and, frowning, stared intently at the back of Ms. Baker’s head.

Upcoming City Council Agenda For Tuesday

Here is the upcoming City Council agenda for Tuesday: I. Call to Order. II. Pledge of Allegiance/Invocation (Vice-Chairman Freeman). III. Minute Approval. IV. Special Presentation. V. Ordinances – Final Reading: ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT a. An ordinance amending Chattanooga City Code, Part II, Chapter 11, by the addition of a new Article ... (click for more)

Fort Oglethorpe Arrest Report For Feb. 5-11

Here is the Fort Oglethorpe arrest report for Feb. 5-11: Jerry Dewom Daniel, 23, of 7735 Farmwood Lane, Harrison was arrested February 5 for theft by shoplifting. Melissa Renee Carson, 38, of 27 Templin Hills Lane, Ringgold was arrested February 5 for driving while license suspended/revoked. William Terrell Holloway, 57, of 207 W. Peachtree Street, Rossville was arrested ... (click for more)

Black History Month Hero - Theodore McGraw (Kidd) AKA "Pongee"

I grew up in "Old St. Elmo" on 39th Street behind the Incline. As a child I remember my older brother "Pongee" as being my hero. This month of February being Black History Month, I cannot think of a better person to be honored than my late older brother, Theodore McGraw (Kidd) aka "Pongee" of St. Elmo (Gamble Town). Growing up without my father, Theodore was always available ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Chatt2.org’ Needs You Now

A diverse yet powerful panel of community leaders in Nashville delivered a letter to the Metro Nashville Board of Education last week. It was signed by some top men and women who represent a wide-ranking cross section of Tennessee’s largest city and includes education, business, religious and diversity superstars. You need to understand the urgency behind the letter. Davidson County ... (click for more)

Near-Perfect Red Bank Leads Region 2-A/AA Wrestling

High school wrestling coaches are always looking for perfection and Red Bank's Shane Turner almost got it Friday night in the opening day of the Region 2-A/AA tournament at Hixson Middle School. The Lions advanced all 14 of their wrestlers to Saturday morning's championship semifinal round and lead the 14-team field with 52 points. Hixson advanced 10 to the semis and hold ... (click for more)

CCS Finishes Regular Season With Wins Over Grundy County

The Chattanooga Christian girls and boys basketball teams had a big night Friday as they hosted district rival Grundy County.   The boys team sealed the top seed going into the district 7-AA tournament with a comfortable 73-39 over the visiting Jackets.  The Lady Chargers avoided a 7-AA tournament opener on the road with a 69-65 comeback win over the Lady ... (click for more)