Carpenter appearance postponed in court

SAN LUIS—Carol Carpenter, 70, Blanca, made a first appearance on a first-degree murder charge Wednesday, March 1.

The matter was continued until March 15 and Carpenter spent time in closed-door consultation with Public Defender Amanda Hopkins.

Carpenter has been free on a $50,000 appearance bond, which was continued by 12th Judicial Chief District Judge Pattie Swift.

Described as “fiercely independent,” Carol was living with her son, Corey, 27, in a small trailer on the side of Mt. Blanca when the young man died.

A tiny woman, under five feet tall, she had opted to take care of her son herself, despite some efforts to help.

Former Costilla County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Falomir said he arrived at the Carpenter residence on Oct. 23, 2015, following a 9-1-1 call, and found Corey motionless on the floor. He said Carol told him she had performed some chest compressions, but Corey may have been dead a while when she did so. Carol had advised the emergency operator that her son was “barely breathing.”

Corey weighed 57 pounds and had bones protruding from his skin when his body was stripped for an autopsy.

When healthy, he weighed 145 pounds. He was short, not much taller than his diminutive mother, but began to lose weight when he chose only to eat favorite foods. Carol Carpenter told investigators the weight loss wasn’t rapid and graphic, but it was remarkable.

The El Paso County Coroner’s Office, which usually conducts autopsies for coroners in the San Luis Valley, first ruled that the cause of death was malnutrition, but FBI agents worked with the coroner and, after showing a photo from Corey’s 2008 driver’s license alongside one when he was on the autopsy table, the manner of death was re-determined to be homicide.
When Corey’s body was being prepared for autopsy, he was wearing at least eight shirts and five pairs of pants. Hidden within the clothing were some plastic wrappers, a non-working cell phone, food and toy items and several pocketknives. Carol told investigators Corey would often hide things from her, especially food items. He was believed to have been unable to clean himself under all the clothing.

During the autopsy, only Ibuprofen was found in Corey’s system and his gastrointestinal tract contained lesions and brown fluid.

Medical and genetic testing showed he had “fragile X” syndrome and some graphic changes could possibly be connected with his father dying, but some persons with the syndrome may be normal at an early age, and then gradually change.

According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, fragile X the most common form of inherited intellectual disability in males and is also a significant cause of intellectual disability in females. It affects about 1 in 4,000 males and 1 in 8,000 females and occurs in all racial and ethnic groups.

According to the institute, Persons with the syndrome have a particular facial appearance, characterized by a large head size, a long face, prominent forehead and chin and protruding ears.

Affected boys may have behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, hand flapping, hand biting, temper tantrums and autism. Other behaviors in boys after they have reached puberty include poor eye contact, problems in impulse control and distractibility. Physical problems that have been seen include eye, orthopedic, heart and skin problems, as well as the repetition of a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus, usually caused by brain injury
District Attorney Crista Newmyer Olsen pointed out that Corey was under full control of his mother, who was totally responsible for his care. Then, within a month of his death, Carol said he was not combative with her. He was active and non-combative.

Hopkins said Carol Carpenter told law enforcement after Corey’s death, “that she was doing everything in the best interests of her son.”