Deon Cartmell Takes The Stand In Murder Trial - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Deon Cartmell Takes The Stand In Murder Trial

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Shari Cartmell Shari Cartmell
Blood expert Jerry Finley Blood expert Jerry Finley
Metro Detective Pat Postiglione Metro Detective Pat Postiglione
State medical examiner John Davis State medical examiner John Davis

By Mark Bellinger

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The former Metro police officer on trial for the murder of his wife took the stand in his own defense on Thursday afternoon.

Deon Cartmell is charged with the first-degree murder of his wife, Shari, at their home in northeast Nashville in March 2010. Cartmell said it was an accidental discharge, and his wife shot herself. However, police said their investigation found that is not true.

Cartmell took the stand around 4 p.m. after the state rested. The defense put on a couple of other witnesses, and then called him to the stand. He began by talking about how he met his wife, Shari, at a mall while he was serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, and that they had a long-distance relationship.

"It was long distance over the phone, and MySpace was the thing that was in at the time. So MySpace and on the phone," said Cartmell when he took the stand.

He and Shari were married three years, but he said she has always had financial problems.   

"Shari filed bankruptcy before we got married so, of course, she had a bad credit. And when you get lights cut on, they do a credit check and if it's bad, you have to pay a deposit," Cartmell said. "I had great credit, so what we did was put it in my name so we didn't have to pay the deposit."

When Cartmell was questioned about the shooting, he was emotional and said he called 911 immediately after the gun went off. He told jurors he was cleaning guns and reached for an AR-15 when he heard the gunshot behind him.

He said he doesn't remember anything else.

Police said he has told three different versions of what happened that night. The last one was with an attorney when he claimed to be sitting on the sofa cleaning weapons.

He told police Shari had his handgun and it went off while she was behind him.

The state's last witness was a nationally recognized blood spatter expert who told jurors the evidence did not match to the his account.

Cartmell told police he was facing away from Shari when she shot herself. The blood expert said there were blood spatters on Cartmell's face.

"The impact stains on his face indicated that he was facing or at least his face was facing the source of the entry here," said Jerry Finley.

Cartmell told police he was facing away from Shari when she shot herself in the face.  Cartmell also told police he was leaning forward when the gun went off.

The expert also testified the blood found on the front of Cartmell's t-shirt could not have been there without him facing the shooting.

He also believes Shari was shot somewhere near the front door of their home, and walked over to the couch and died. He said he doesn't believe she pulled the trigger. 

"Actually I believe she was shot at the door and then moved or was moved or moved herself around to the couch," added Finley.

He also said the blood found on Shari's arms and hands do not support Cartmell's story.

Cartmell's attorney tried to poke holes in the testimony. He may put his own blood expert on the stand.

Metro Detective Pat Postiglione testified he saw blood spatter on a wall and on Deon's shirt.

"The most compelling evidence was on the shirt in my opinion. The most compelling blood spatter was on the shirt versus anywhere else," Postiglione told jurors.

Postiglione, like lead investigator Detective Chuck Robinson, said Deon's last statement doesn't match the evidence.

Detective Postiglione said not only is the physical evidence inconsistent with Cartmell's statement, so is the timeline.

"He made his preliminary evaluation that the victim did not shoot herself after several hours of examining the evidence, looking at the photographs and looking at I believe he may have even listened to the 911 call," Postiglione explained.

Cartmell told police when Shari got home she put chicken in the oven and it had been in there 10 minutes when she shot herself.

Shari worked in the emergency room at Skyline Medical Center. Hospital officials said she was there the afternoon of the shooting and she left at 4:30 p.m.

The trip home would have taken about 12 minutes. Cartmell made the 911 call at 4:44 p.m.

State medical examiner John Davis performed the autopsy. He concluded the gun was less than a foot from Shari's face when it went off.

"Close to 9 inches so right about that distance," Davis said.

"Is that a comfortable position for your particular wrist?" asked the prosecutor.

He responded with "No ma'am."

He said it was possible to hold the gun that way, but unlikely.

Under cross examination, Defense attorney Jim Todd countered Shari could have been holding the gun in a different manner. But the way Todd demonstrated it in court, the gun would have injured Shari's hand and there was no injury.

On Wednesday, Shari Cartmell's mother took the stand; jurors heard the 911 call and watched the police interrogation of Cartmell the day after the shooting. A woman with whom Cartmell was allegedly dating also testified, along with a Metro police officer who said he had had conversations with Cartmell about his infidelity.

On Tuesday, prosecutors laid out their case during opening statements saying Cartmell had motive to kill Shari because he had been unfaithful and the couple had financial problems. Also, just a week before the shooting, Cartmell showed up at Shari's work and the couple had a fight.

The defense maintained that the shooting was an accident and that they will prove that Cartmell did not kill his wife.

The prosecution also said the couple was also having financial problems, and behind on several bills.   

The trial is expected to last at least to the end of the week.

Cartmell graduated from the police academy in 2009, and had been a patrol officer in the East Precinct before he was decommissioned following the shooting.

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