LEBANON, Tenn. (WTVF) — The family of a 21-year-old Portland mother shot and killed in Trousdale County over a missing wallet said justice is finally served after the suspect plead guilty.
Benjamen Carter was awaiting trial for the death of Bailey Donoho next year but decided to change plea Tuesday morning. As a result, Carter received a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 51 years. Donoho's parents, sister and 5-year-old son were all in the courtroom. In an exclusive interview moments after the hearing, the family said they are relieved and glad but feel numb.
"He wanted to just get it over with honestly. He's coward and he's tired of standing in front of everybody, that's my honest opinion," Donoho's sister Mason said. "It’s been getting harder on me as time goes through because I'm coming into more of a realization that my best friend and my backbone and the person who I had my entire life isn't here anymore."
Prosecutors revealed new information that Carter picked up Donoho and a friend from a house on Dalton Hollow Road. He became angry when he realized his wallet went missing and accused the two of stealing it. He then threatened to kill someone if the wallet didn't show up, according to Assistant District Attorney Jason Lawson.
Carter drove to his father's house on Browning Branch Road and parked near the backyard. He walked out with his grandfather's assault-style rifle already in the truck, turned around and fired three rounds at the vehicle, Lawson said. Donoho was struck twice: once in the thigh and the second in her chest.
"There's a certain of morals and ethics some people have and don't. When people are just mean and evil, it doesn't really matter what you say or do because they don't care," Donoho's mother Leslie said.
The friend in the truck managed to escape and asked a neighbor to call for police so he could get picked up. However, Donoho's body was only found a day later by Carter's father. The truck was eventually located at Carter's grandfather's house in Gallatin with bullet holes and blood that matched Donoho's. Lawson said on top of evidence they had from the scenes, his office also had jailhouse calls of him talking about the shooting.
In Wilson County where he was being held for safekeeping, Carter simply told her parents in court, "I'm so sorry." The Donohos said they are unable to accept his apology for now.
"I don't accept it. You don't kill somebody just because you get mad," Leslie said. "I will never forgive him for taking my child away."
Donoho was known to be full of life. The community gathered to hold a candlelight vigil in her honor in September at the cemetery.
The family approved dropping the attempted charge against Carter per the plea deal.