Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist

Mother Faces Her Killer Son
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Mother Faces Her Killer Son

Daily Mail 24th May 1984

ROSEMARY CARTER sits squeezed into visiting booth 15 at graffiti-scarred Los Angeles County Jail. It is her only contact with her killer son who is to. spend the rest of his life behind bars.

David Carter, 21, stares back through a bullet-proof screen replying to her anxious questions over a prison telephone.

It is the only sort of contact mother and son have had in 21 months. For Mrs Carter, still shattered by his conviction for the brutal sex torture and killing of a woman neighbour, the lack of physical contact brings even more agony.

I must believe', She says : 'It's so cruel. This is the only time my husband and I can have with David. We can see and talk to him, but we can't touch him. I want to hug him, to embrace him, but that screen is always there, always in the way.

'We are officially allowed only 20 minutes a visit, though we are sometimes given more. You almost begin to accept the situation, and you have to shake yourself into not doing that.

'I can't accept what has happened but we have to look at the position we are in realistically. We have to go from here and work to get David out and free. I have to believe we can do that.'

And that sentence is to be served in a steel-barred 'cage' in America's toughest prison, San Quentin, a living hell where stabbings, shootings and riots are a fact of everyday life.
Mrs Carter and her engineer husband Brian, who emigrated with David from Buxton, Derbyshire, know that their son could well become the target for prison rapists.
*I am going to see if I can get him put in protective custody but that's probably not possible,' said Mrs Carter.

'They have some harsh rules here. Nothing really seems possible. I can't even get to hold his hand.'

Mrs Carter, her greying hair tightly curled and with dark lines under her eyes, has become something of a chain smoker since her son's arrest for the grotesque and brutal killing of Mrs Gloria Black, 51.

Since then his parents have visited him almost every day in prison. They join the crowds of visitors and make a formal application to see their son. Then they wait.
'One time they said the computer had broken down and we sat on the concrete floor for six hours waiting to see David.' said Mrs Carter.
I spoke to Carter over the visiting booth phone. He told me : 'I'm young and I hope I'll survive.
'I know I'll be raped in jail. I know what goes on but I'm resigned to it.
'I have spent a lot of time thinking about what has happened to me. I feel overwhelmed by it.
'I have kept my emotions bottled up inside. That's the way I am. I sat in court and didn't say anything. I wanted to. I wanted to punch the district attorney for the things he was saying about me. But I didn't. What good would that have done ?
'I was determined not to break down in court. But here, back in the jail, I have cried in the cell.
'But there is no point in going on crying. I have to hope there will be a re-trial or an appeal, and I will see the sun again.
'I have to believe I will be free some day. I want to get legal books and study and see what I can do for myself.'
Carter recalled his time in a cell which he claimed was filled with 60 Mexicans.
'I was the only white face there. I was the different one. I was threatened.
'My parents got me out of that situation with the help of the British Consul. I was given a cell of my own until the trial.
'I still have-that cell but I will be moved to my new prison soon and I -know things will change.'
During the six-week trial in Pasadena Superior Court Carter had sat. as his father says, 'like a white-faced zombie.'
Despite the verdict, he still protests his innocence. 'I don't know who did the murder. It wasn't me.'

Carter, who was born in Bloxwich, Staffs, has been provided with books by his parents and he plays chess with other prisoners. They have numbered boards and call out their moves along the cell blocks.
The inmates have devised a similar method for playing gin rummy.
Carter, in dark blue prison uniform, was pleased with himself when we talked. He had won six pancakes for dinner playing rummy.
He will be officially sentenced in court on July 3. He will then be processed through the court system before being sent to Chino Prison 100 miles north of Los Angeles for psychiatric evaluation.

Later, as a 'lifer', he will be dispatched to St Quentin Prison, which is known as California's Devil's Island.

This weekend his parents will return to Canada, to the home they have established there. They have another son, Simon, 17, to think of and put through college. But they will be back for more prison visiting.
'Maybe in St Quentin there will be open visiting,' said Rosemary Carter.
'I   haven't   touched   David since he was arrested. They • keep us behind these screens. He   says   he   misses   contact with us. God knows, we do.'

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