WACO (April 23, 2014) Us Carnell Petetan of Port Arthur, whom a Waco jury found guilty of capital murder Monday evening in the slaying of his estranged wife and the abduction of her daughter, drew a warning from the judge Wednesday afternoon as he grew agitated while a prosecutor cross-examined his mother.
Petetan was convicted Monday of gunning down Gatesville native Kimberly Farr Petetan, 44, and abducting her daughter on Sept. 23, 2012, after what authorities say was a heated argument at the Landing Apartments, in the 2500 block of East Lake Shore Drive in Waco.
Jurors must now decide whether to sentence Petetan to death by lethal injection or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
State District Judge Ralph Stother ordered the jury removed from the courtroom Wednesday afternoon and then turned to Petetan and told him that if his agitation continued, he would allow deputies to take appropriate reaction or remove him from the courtroom.
Petetan said “Yes sir,” after Strother asked, “Do you hear me?”
When testimony resumed after a 10-minute break, five deputies surrounded the defendant.
The defense is trying to establish that Petetan is mentally retarded, and thus ineligible for the death penalty.
In an opening statement, attorney Walter Reaves told jurors that Petetan’s mother, Ophelia Ortiz, noticed problems with her son from an early age.
Petetan struggled in school, Reaves said, and was diagnosed early on as mentally retarded.
Under defense questioning Ortiz testified her son cried constantly as an infant, threw tantrums as a toddler, and couldn’t tie his own shoes or take care of himself.
She testified he didn’t have a driver’s license because he couldn’t pass the test and said he wasn’t capable of writing letters “unless someone else helps him.”
Assistant District Attorney Michael Jarrett, however, showed her 40 letters that Petetan wrote and she said she was shocked that he could write them.
She denied knowing of her son’s juvenile arrests, denied he could write rap songs or read newspapers and magazines.
But when asked if she would do “anything to keep your son alive,” she responded, “I won’t lie.”
The defense also presented testimony from Petetan’s older sister, Sabrina Mouton, who said her brother cried constantly as an infant and often wet himself.
She testified that other children frequently teased him.
Under cross-examination, she said her brother wrote her letters while he was in prison, but said others helped him write them.
Prosecutors rested their case Wednesday morning after they questioned 23 witnesses over the course of a day and a half who detailed Petetan’s extensive criminal history, which includes more than a dozen arrests before he turned 16 and the shooting death of a man in the backyard of his mother’s home in Port Arthur for which he received a 20-year sentence after he was tried as an adult.
The state’s final three witnesses Wednesday were former or current prison inmates, who testified that Petetan threatened, attacked and forcibly sodomized them.
One of the inmates fought back tears as he recounted how Petetan jumped on his back while he was lying down, pulled down his shorts and raped him.
He said he’s afraid of Petetan even now.