ST. CLAIRSVILLE - A packed Belmont County courtroom collectively held its breath as the jury foreman handed the long-awaited verdict to the judge in a case that drew national media attention.
A jury of 12 Belmont County residents found suspended Martins Ferry Police Chief Barry Carpenter guilty of three separate charges on Monday afternoon after spending two days in deliberations.
Carpenter, 40, had been charged with six felony counts in the alleged break-in of the home of Michelle Ross who was the surrogate of twin daughters for actors Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick.
T-L Photos/KAY SEDGMER
A BELMONT County jury has found suspended Martins Ferry Police Chief Barry Carpenter guilty of three charges in the surrogate scandal which has gained national media attention. Carpenter and his attorney Dennis McNamara react following the reading of the verdict on Monday afternoon in the courtroom of Common Pleas Judge John Solovan. The 40-year-old Carpenter is facing up to 6 1/2 years in prison. Visit cu.timesleaderonline.com.
The jury found Carpenter guilty of two felony charges: theft in office and receiving stolen property. The former police chief was also found guilty of tampering with evidence.
He is facing up to 6 years in prison.
Not guilty verdicts were rendered in two separate felony charges of burglary and a another of unauthorized use of property and services.
He will be sentenced on Dec. 30 following a pre-sentence investigation ordered by Judge John Solovan. Until that time, the former police chief will remain under house arrest and will be monitored through a GPS system.
Carpenter was ordered to report to the county's probation department to obtain the ankle bracelet and other required equipment. In addition, the judge ordered that all firearms be removed from his possession.
The indictment handed down against Carpenter alleged he had entered the home of the surrogate in May of this year and had taken various items pertaining to the pregnancy including photos that he later deleted from his cell phone camera. He also reportedly attempted to sell those photos and items to a tabloid photographer in an attempt to obtain personal financial gain.
As the jury's decision for the first three counts were read, sighs of relief were heard from his family and friends who had sat through four days of testimony and two days of deliberations.
However, the guilty verdicts in the next three charges left his supporters in shocked silence. Carpenter, sitting at the defense table next to attorney Dennis McNamara, dropped his head into his hands.
Jurors had deliberated well into the night on Friday before Judge Solovan recessed for the weekend. The jury returned to the courtroom to begin further deliberations on Monday at 9 a.m., reaching the verdicts at 4 p.m.
McNamara spoke with reporters following the verdict, confirming that Carpenter will never be able to work as a police officer again.
"He can't hold a public office. However, the judge has the authority to not impose a prison sentence," McNamara said. "The verdict can be appealed."
He said his client regrets his decision to take photos while in the home of the surrogate but still contends he didn't take anything.
"He has been a good cop for 17 years," McNamara noted. "He has been very stoic. He has been strong. He remained hopeful to the end."
Carpenter's mother, with whom he must live while under house arrest, said she was upset with the jury's verdicts.
"He is a good kid," she said. "We're appealing."
Special Prosecutor Shawn Hervey said he was pleased with the verdict, although disappointed with the not guilty findings in the burglary charges.
"The guilty charges send a message to rouge cops across America that if you perpetuate a crime like this you will be punished," he said.
Assistant Special Prosecutor Emily Laube said she was happy to see "justice prevail" even when it involved the wrongdoings of a police chief.
Following the verdict, Carpenter rushed to his vehicle in the parking lot behind the courthouse and drove off, refusing to make comment.
The trial for his co-defendant in the case, suspended Bridgeport Police Chief Chad Dojack, will begin on Jan. 12.
Sedgmer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org