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

Wednesday, March 05, 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.

Family Makes Treasure Trove Of Early Chattanooga Photographs Available For Book; Stokes Collection Has Been Passed Down To Descendants

A treasure trove of Chattanooga photographs that have been passed down in the Stokes family for generations has now been assembled in an upcoming book. Chattanooga Around The Turn Of The Century: The Remarkable Stokes Collection will be published by Chattanoogan.com. Pre-orders are now being taken for the book, which includes over 700 photos on large-size pages. Publisher ... (click for more)

Woman Shot While Driving On 4th Avenue, Drives Herself To Hospital

Chattanooga Police were called to a local hospital Wednesday evening after a woman arrived with a gunshot wound.  Lakita Bowling, 36, told investigators she was driving her car on 4th Avenue when an unknown suspect fired a single round at her vehicle.   Ms. Bowling realized she had been shot and drove herself to a local hospital.  Chattanooga Police ask anyone ... (click for more)

Leaders Lead On Amendment 1

This week the Hamilton County Commission was faced with what I believe may be one of the most important votes they have cast during their tenure.  Granted, the vote was over a "mere" Resolution that resulted in no overt action or new law in our county.  But there are times when simply speaking Truth and taking a stand on a foundational Principle is paramount and as such ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Expert Reasons Why To Vote

Early voting for the November election begins two weeks from today so please jump-start your plans that will assure your choices will be counted. In a fun-filled attempt to show what some of those who actually vote do during the rest of the day, I offer two examples of “those who live among us” from experts. The first are a series of questions from readers of “Dear Abby” who ask ... (click for more)

East Hamilton Personnel Losses Boost Other 5-AAA Hoop Teams

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – East Hamilton’s loss has been solid gains for two other basketball teams in District 5-AAA and Ringgold, Ga. One of the Hurricanes’ top players, Kenny Bunton, left the program two days after Rodney English replaced fired Michael Stone and transferred to Walker Valley where he will play for coach Bob Williams’ Mustangs. “I took the job in March and two days ... (click for more)

John Shearer: Memories Of Watching 38 Baylor-McCallie Games

Back in the fall of 1971 when I was in the sixth grade at Bright School, I listened on the radio to the exciting football game between Baylor and McCallie schools, the first since the series had been discontinued after 1940. I was hoping to attend Baylor School as a student the next year, so I was quite excited that Baylor won, 9-7.  And the next year as a seventh-grader, ... (click for more)