Carson case receives final charges

Staff Writer Kate Wehlann

Jerry Lee Carson, Jr., 47, was back in court this morning for his initial hearing before Judge Larry Medlock. During his last court appearance, the state asked for 72 hours to find evidence for more charges and Thursday morning, the judge listed his charges officially as obstruction of justice, a Level 6 felony, which carries a 6-month to 2 1/2-year sentence and up to $10,000 in fines, and failure to report a dead body, which carries a sentence of up to 1 year with the Department of Corrections and up to $5,000 in fines. There's also the possibility of his being found guilty of being an habitual offender, which could add two to six years to any sentence granted by the previous two charges.

The state cited three past charges specifically: theft in August 2017 in Marion County, theft in March 2012 in Hamilton County and escape in December 2015 in Jackson County.

Carson was arrested on Saturday, Oct. 26, following the discovery of the body of Jacob Dodson, 22, in a large duffel bag under an abandoned trailer just west of Carson's 4301 W. Wheeler Holler Rd. home.

Dodson's family had reported him missing about a week before and Carson was believed to be the last person to see Dodson alive, so that's where investigators went. Carson told investigators when they came to speak with him he had seen Dodson last on Sunday, Oct. 21, when he had dropped Dodson off on a street in Salem early in the morning. Indiana State Police Detective Matt Busick informed Carson they had evidence Dodson's cell phone was currently located close to Carson's home. Carson told officers he had taken Dodson's phone and led investigators to a spot about 30 yards away from the house, above the bank of the White River. He told them he had thrown Dodson's phone in the river because "he just wanted to get rid of it." Busick noticed a hat hung on the brush nearby and Carson told him the hat belonged to Dodson. He "tried to throw the hat in the river, but it didn't make it when he tried."

Busick asked Carson if he knew where Dodson was and Carson admitted he did, but didn't want to tell them because he was afraid he'd be arrested. He then walked investigators over to a trailer located near the beginning of the driveway to the west of the house and told them Dodson was under the trailer. He was in a large, black bag covered with wood.

Busick and Detective Chris Tucker located the bag, but didn't disturb it to maintain the scene. Carson told them Dodson had died of an overdose on Sunday, Oct. 21.

Tucker and Busick transported Carson to the Washington County Jail to get his statement. Carson told them Dodson contacted him late Saturday night, Oct. 20. Carson picked Dodson up from a home on Bee Line Road in Salem and took him to another house where he claimed Dodson purchased an unknown amount and unknown type of drugs. Carson then drove to a field off Rush Creek Road where he said Dodson overdosed. Carson said he had fallen asleep in the driver's seat of the truck and Dodson was in the passenger seat. When Carson woke up Sunday morning, he thought Dodson was dead, but he wasn't sure. Carson drove to 4707 Walnut Ridge Rd., with Dodson still in the vehicle and left him there until Monday night. On Monday, Carson removed Dodson's body and placed him in the large, black bag and put the bag in his sister's rental car, using the car ttransport Dodson's body to Wheeler Holler Road, where he hid the body until he could figure out what to do. Carson told investigators he thought about burying the body but investigators arrived before he could do anything with the body.

Bryan Dodson, Jacob Dodson's father, admitted he knew his son had a problem with substance abuse, but what happened was harder to bear because of Carson's hiding his son's body.

"I'm hoping they can find more on him to get more time [in Carson's sentence]," he said after the hearing Thursday. "I believe they're doing the best they can to get the highest possible time."

Carson's attorney, Lisa Glickfield, entered a preliminary plea of not guilty on Carson's behalf and requested a competency evaluation for him. She said Carson was on disability for mental health reasons and she had difficulty communicating with him when she spoke with him before the hearing. The judge granted that request.

A pre-trial conference is set for Nov. 15 and a tentative trial date is set for March 5, 2019. Carson's bond is currently set at $10,000.


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