Nathan Carman, the Vernon, Vermont man arrested last week for allegedly killing his mother on the ocean in 2016 then sinking their fishing boat, will stay in federal custody for now.
An order of detention pending trial filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Burlington directed Carman to be confined to a correctional facility — until future court hearings. While his defense attorneys are expected to argue for Carman’s release pending trial, a hearing Monday was delayed at their request, so they can better prepare their case.
“It’s the kind of case that movies are made about,” observed Jessica Brown, a former federal public defender and current professor at Vermont Law School, discussing the accusations against Carman.
Carmen pleaded not guilty last week to multiple fraud charges and a first-degree murder in the 2016 death of his mother, Linda Carman of Middletown, Connecticut. The 28-year-old also is suspected of killing his grandfather in Connecticut in 2013.
Carman, who allegedly killed so he could inherit cash from his grandpa’s real estate fortune, shouted “not guilty” to news cameras last week at his arraignment in Rutland.
“This one is going to take a while, I imagine,” Brown said, noting she expects the case will take a long time to work its way through court because of how many dense documents are likely in each of the seven fraud counts against Carman.
Already, the complex investigation had the defense asking for extra time to find possible witnesses and research evidence going back years throughout New England, before the attorneys could even argue for their client’s release from custody pending trial.
Judge Geoffrey Crawford OK'd the defense’s request for a delay in that hearing about pretrial release. The postponement could be for 60 days, or possibly longer, since the defense motion indicated Carman’s attorneys could notify the court when they are ready to proceed.
"The defense has a real challenge, I imagine, trying to figure out ways to put together such a plan," Brown told NECN & NBC10 Boston. "Because often, you’re going to rely on family members to say, 'Yes this person can live with me. Yes I’ll be responsible for this person.' And I would imagine that that’s a real challenge for the defense in this case."
In an indictment unsealed last week, prosecutors discussed their strong belief Carman is just too dangerous to release, warning of "potential mood and psychotic disorders" and "a history of hostility and aggression."
"He may have personality disorders that don’t give him the ability to feel the types of emotions that you or I may have," noted Penny Shtull, a criminologist at Norwich University.
Shtull studies people who kill their parents or close relatives, and explained in an interview Monday with NECN & NBC10 Boston that such violence often stems from someone desperate to escape prolonged abuse.
Because of that tendency, she sees the allegation that Carman murdered to get his hands on inheritance money — which he has pled not guilty to — as unusual.
"These are rare events, but they do happen," Shtull said of cases in general where children kill their parents or close relatives — known as parricide. "Killing out of greed is, probably, among the least or less-common motivations when we do see a child kill family members."
According to the indictment, if Carman is convicted of the charge of murder on the high seas, he’d face a mandatory punishment of life in prison.