Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — In the final moments of his life, Jose Luis Fernandez allegedly beat and kicked a woman as she screamed for help, according to three separate accounts of the April 8 incident.
Gregory Scott Carpenter and his wife heard the woman’s cries from their next-door trailer. When they rushed out of bed to see what was happening, Carpenter’s wife said she could hear the woman yell: “He’s going to kill me.”
The three accounts of what happened over the course of the next few minutes differ in several key respects. But authorities allege Carpenter voluntarily confessed that he shot and killed the 36-year-old Fernandez.
“(Carpenter) stated he the guy (sic) was beating on the girl and he believes the guy was going to kill her,” Alamosa County Sheriff’s Cpl. Gary Spangler said in a statement to support a warrantless arrest.
The sheriff’s office subsequently arrested the 50-year-old man for second-degree murder. As of press time Thursday, though, no formal charges had been filed against him.
Spangler and other sheriff’s employees first arrived at the scene shortly after Carpenter’s stepdaughter called 911 to report a domestic disturbance in progress at the Wagon Wheel Trailer Park.
Carpenter allegedly told the first responding deputy that he shot a man, and then pointed to a body that was lying face down in the dirt about 10 feet away.
Once Carpenter was in custody, the suspect reportedly claimed that he did not want to shoot the man. But under the circumstances, Carpenter said he felt he had no choice, according to Spangler’s report.
Spangler tried to cut the alleged confession short, telling Carpenter that he would have the chance to make a statement once he’d been advised of his Miranda rights. But Carpenter insisted on speaking to him, he reported.
“Mr. Carpenter stated he understood and he wanted to talk with me because he was only trying to protect her because he thought (Fernandez) was going to kill her,” Spangler’s report says.
The suspect went on to give authorities a detailed statement of the alleged events leading up to Fernandez’s death.
The incident began around 10 p.m. Monday night, he said, when he heard a woman yelling: “stop … stop.”
Carpenter got up to investigate, and once he opened his front door, he could see a man and a woman involved in a struggle.
He went back inside his trailer to retrieve his pistol for protection, since he didn’t want the man coming on to his property. When he emerged a few moments later, he noticed that the man had pinned the woman against his family’s trailer, he said.
At that point, Carpenter allegedly cocked his gun, pointed it at the man, and told him to stop. The man, he said, turned in his direction and challenged him with a taunt: “go ahead and shoot me.”
Carpenter stood firm as the man allegedly continued to rough up the woman, while demanding “the rings” from her.
When the woman gave the man what he demanded, Carpenter said the man stood up and walked toward him in a fast and aggressive manner.
He kept going until Carpenter allegedly shot him in the chest.
Carpenter reacted immediately, setting his gun down on the porch and telling his wife what happened, according to Spangler’s report.
As soon as he’d done so, he walked outside and waited for authorities to arrive.
He didn’t want to be arrested in front of his children, he said.
Wife corroborates story
Carpenter’s wife did not witness the alleged shooting. But her statement to the sheriff’s office largely supports her husband’s version of events, while filling in additional details.
She reported that she and her husband were asleep on the evening of April 8 until a screaming woman outside their trailer jolted her awake.
A few seconds later, her oldest daughter began to scream, as well, so the couple got out of bed to find out what was happening.
When her husband opened the door to their trailer, she could see a man attacking a woman, she said.
Her husband told the man at least twice to leave the woman alone, she said, and the man returned to his trailer.
Likewise, the Carpenters went back inside their home, locking the door behind them.
While she put their five-year old daughter back to bed, her husband went to their room in order to retrieve his pistol.
As the seconds passed by, though, the screaming outside began to intensify, she said.
Moments later, she heard her husband open the front door and yell: “get off of her.”
By the time she reached the door, she saw a man with his hands around the woman’s neck. She told the sheriff’s office that the man looked directly at Carpenter and told him to shoot.
Once again, her husband told the man to get off the woman, she said.
In response, the man stood up and began to walk toward Carpenter, she said, daring him to shoot.
However, she missed whatever happened next: She moved away from the front door in order to care for her daughter.
Soon afterward, she heard a gunshot.
The next time that she saw the man, he was stumbling around outside the trailer, holding his hands to his chest.
As he fell to the ground, Carpenter’s wife said she heard the man say: “He shot me.”
Victim’s girlfriend says no final warning before shot fired
The woman at the center of the alleged domestic disturbance told the sheriff’s office Fernandez was upset that she had been drinking all day.
She said the couple started to argue because he was tired, following a 12-hour shift at Mountain King.
As the evening wore on, the woman said she tried to get away from Fernandez. However, he pushed her down a flight of steps and then began to kick her, she said.
According to the woman, a male neighbor soon appeared and told Fernandez: “leave her alone. I said (expletive) leave her alone.”
But Fernandez continued to kick her and hit her, she said.
The neighbor, meanwhile, walked back inside his house.
When he reappeared, he aimed his gun at Fernandez and fired it, the woman said. But he never said anything before he took the shot, she reported.
Carpenter remains in custody at the Alamosa County Detention Center; his bail currently stands at $75,000 cash or surety.