A Vermont man accused of killing his mother at sea in an elaborate plot to gain millions from a family inheritance has been ordered held without bail.
Chief Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford ruled Tuesday in a U.S. District Court in Burlington that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Nathan Carman posed a danger to society and flight risk and shot down a defense request to release the 28-year-old from custody, according to The Boston Globe.
Carman is facing murder and fraud charges as part of an alleged years-long scheme to gain access to family money and insurance that prosecutors contend drove him to kill his grandfather and mother several years apart — although he has only been formally charged with the 2016 death of his mother, Linda Carman.
Carman’s attorneys believe the evidence against him is weak and argued in court Tuesday that he had lived “a quiet life” in Vermont and regularly attended Bible study before his arrest, adding that he is eager to clear his name.
To bolster support for his release, they introduced a letter from Carman’s father, Earle Clark Carman, describing his son as a “responsible young man who poses no risk to himself or others,” according to Fox News.
“There is no reason why he would harm the two most important people in his life, his mother and his grandfather, or anyone else,” the elder man wrote, adding that his son had previously been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
But prosecutors have painted a much more sinister picture of Carman, who they say carried out a calculated plan to lure his mother out to sea under the guise of a mother-son fishing trip, then killed her and let the sabotaged boat sink to the ocean floor before being rescued himself.
Carman’s aunts also opposed his release writing in a letter submitted to court last week, writing that they were “very concerned that Nathan has nothing to lose if he is allowed out of jail at this time and will seek retribution against the family,” according to The Boston Globe.
Crawford ultimately ruled to keep Carman — who has been behind bars since his arrest in May — held without bail, citing his “involvement with firearms” and the “ongoing feud with his family” over his grandfather’s insurance as reasons he is considered a possible danger.
Authorities believe Carman also fatally shot that grandfather, John Chakalos, twice as the older man slept at his Windsor, Connecticut home on Dec. 20, 2013 in an attempt to “defraud” his grandfather’s estate and get money from a trust set up for the family, according to an indictment previously obtained by Oxygen.com.
Chakalos had been a successful real estate developer who left behind $44 million to be split among his four daughters, including Carman’s mother.
Just one month before the fatal shooting, Carman had used a New Hampshire driver’s license to purchase a Sig Sauer rifle — the same type of weapon that had been used in the murder, according to the court records.
In court on Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathanael Burris said Chakalos had been supporting his grandson financially before his death but had threatened to cut off the support if Carman was unable to keep his grades up.
Just two days before his death, Burris said that Carman had received notice that he had failed all his college classes and “knew what his grandfather would do,” when he found out.
As a result of his grandfather’s death, prosecutors said Carman received $400,000 from one account and another $150,000 that had been set aside for a college fund on his behalf, but by 2016, he was “low on funds” and arranged to meet his mother for the fishing trip on which she died, according to the indictment.
The pair set out on Linda Carman’s boat, The Chicken Pox, on Sept.17, 2016 from the Ram Point Marina in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, but never returned as planned.
Carman was rescued a week later by a commercial ship, which found him on an inflatable raft.
He told authorities the boat had sank with his mother still aboard but Burris said in a motion obtained by Fox News that Nathan Carman had never radioed for help.
Linda Carman has never been found and is presumed dead.
According to the indictment, authorities believe Nathan Carman purposefully sabotaged the boat by removing two forward bulkheads and trim tabs from the transom of the hull before they set sail, then purposely sank the boat to kill his mother and collect boat and life insurance.
In court Tuesday, Burris described the pair as having a strained relationship — a contention Nathan Carman’s defense attorney has denied — and said Linda Carman had cut her son out of her will.
If convicted on the charges against him, he faces a mandatory life sentence, according to MassLive.