Woman arrested in connection with the murder of her brother-in-law in Connecticut

A woman from the United States wanted in connection with the murder of her brother-in-law in Connecticut in March 1994 was arrested…

A woman from the United States wanted in connection with the murder of her brother-in-law in Connecticut in March 1994 was arrested in Sandymount, Dublin, early yesterday on foot of extradition warrants. If extradited, the woman, Ms Beth-Anne Carpenter (34), a lawyer from Hartford, Connecticut, could face imprisonment for the rest of her life. A commitment is to be given by the US authorities to the Irish courts that if convicted Ms Carpenter will not face the death penalty.

Under Irish law the woman could not be extradited if she was to face possible execution.

Ms Carpenter was remanded in custody when she was brought before the Bridewell District Court. She is being held in Mountjoy prison and will appear before the court again on November 19th.

It is understood Ms Carpenter has been living in Dublin since August, when she moved to Ireland from London. She had been staying in a house on the Rock Road, Blackrock, Co Dublin, with two other lodgers. She was arrested outside the Sandymount Leisure Club, St John's Road, Sandymount, at 7 a.m.

Provisional extradition warrants for Ms Carpenter were issued last Friday. The state police in Connecticut have been looking for Ms Carpenter since August. It is understood she came to the notice of gardai when her flatmates contacted them, having become worried for Ms Carpenter when she had been missing for a few days.

Ms Carpenter is wanted in the US in relation to charges of capital felony, murder and conspiracy to murder. The charges relate to the shooting dead of Mr Anson "Buzz" Clinton (28) on the interstate highway, Hartford Connecticut, in March 1994.

Mr Clinton died from multiple gunshot wounds. He was shot when he got out of his car after being flagged down by his killer.

The killer, Mr Mark Depres (37), has pleaded guilty to the crime. A court in Connecticut heard how he asked his then 15-year-old son, Christopher, who was with him on the night of the killing, whether he would like to carry out the shooting. Mr Haiman Clein (56), a lawyer with whom Ms Carpenter worked, has also pleaded guilty to Mr Clinton's murder. Mr Clein solicited Mr Despres to carry out the killing and paid him some $17,000 (£11,200). Mr Clein, who is married with five children, was having an affair with Ms Carpenter.

Assistant Connecticut state attorney, Mr Paul E. Murray, told The Irish Times that Ms Carpenter had taken two court actions to win custody of her niece from her sister, Kim, who was married to the late Mr Clinton. Mr Clinton was not the natural father of the child.

"Beth-Anne Carpenter felt Clinton was not an appropriate person to raise her niece," he said. Mr Clein negotiated the killing with Mr Despres, who was a minor criminal and known to Mr Clein.

Both Mr Clein and Mr Despres were charged with the same offences Ms Carpenter is facing but had the capital felony charge dropped when they pleaded guilty to the lesser crimes. They could face sentences of up to 45 years in prison, depending on the extent to which they co-operate in other related prosecutions, including that of Ms Carpenter. However, they will serve minimum sentences of 25 years, Mr Murray said. In Connecticut perpetrators of violent crimes serve over 85 per cent of their sentences.

The normal sentence for capital felony is death, which in Connecticut is by lethal injection, but if Ms Carpenter is found guilty of the offence she will be sentenced to life imprisonment, with no parole. Mr Murray said the extradition papers include a commitment that the death penalty option will not be pursued.

A fourth person allegedly involved in the killing, Mr Joseph Fremut, has also been charged with capital felony, murder and conspiracy to murder Mr Clinton. He is awaiting trial. The allegation against Mr Fremut is that he assisted Mr Despres but was not present on the night of the killing.

The sentencing of Mr Clein and Mr Despres will not take place until all the cases have been completed.

Mr Clinton was a car mechanic. He had placed an advertisement in a newspaper for the sale of a tow truck. Mr Despres, who had been stalking Mr Clinton for some days, noticed the advertisement and contacted him. The two men met and discussed the tow truck on the night of the murder. They then agreed to go to Mr Clinton's home to look at it.

Mr Clinton led the way in his car and Mr Despres followed with his son. When leaving the interstate Mr Despres flashed his headlights and the two cars came to a halt. Mr Clinton got out and came towards him. Mr Despres, after asking his son if he wanted to carry out the killing, shot Mr Clinton six times with a revolver.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent

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