By Joe Johnson
A Superior Court judge this week ruled that evidence of similar prior acts can be used as evidence in the pending trial of an Athens man who allegedly beat a woman to death two years ago and raped another woman several months later.
Douglas Keith Carter, 57, was arrested in January 2019 by Athens-Clarke County police for allegedly killing 56-year-old Lisa Lawson Kilbury on Aug. 30, 2018 by “striking the victim multiple times with multiple objects,” according to the arrest warrant.
The same day he was arrested, police served Carter with additional warrants for allegedly sexually assaulting another woman five months later, on Jan. 9, 2019 in the same residence off Boley Drive where Kilbury died.
A grand jury subsequently indicted Carter for malice and felony murder, rape and aggravated assault in Kilbury’s case, and in the other alleged victim’s case with rape, aggravated sodomy and three counts of aggravated assault, with one count being for having the intent to commit rape, according to the charging document.
The residence where Kilbury was killed and the other woman sexually assaulted was described by Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson as a two-room dwelling in a pasture with goats behind a house in the 400 block of Boley Drive.
Carter reportedly had been homeless prior to moving in with Kilbury at that location a year prior to her death.
According to an Athens-Clarke County police report, Kilbury’s lifeless body was found the afternoon of Aug. 30, 2018 after Carter called 911 to report the woman was not breathing. The coroner pronounced her dead at the scene.
Carter reportedly had called 911 earlier that same day to report that Kilbury was complaining of extreme pain, but the woman refused treatment.
Murder warrants were signed and served on Jan. 9, 2019 soon after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Division of Forensic Sciences informed local authorities that Kilbury’s death had been ruled a homicide as the result of blunt force trauma. She suffered head and neck trauma, rib fractures, contusions, a lacerated spleen and kidney damage, according to court documents.
In the second case for which Carter faces trial, the victim is expected to testify that she and her boyfriend were living with Carter in early 2019, and that on Jan. 9 that year Carter pointed a pellet gun at her and ordered her to undress, then assaulted her with a hammer and forced her into oral sex prior to raping her, according to court records.
Another woman told a detective that she was in a romantic relationship with Carter in 2004 when they lived together in Hart County.
“She reported that she suffered mental and verbal abuse during the relationship. She said when (Carter) would come down off a high from drinking and drugs, he would get vicious and mean,” according to court records. “He sometimes hit her very hard with his hands. Other times, he would use a belt. On at least one occasion he tied her up. Finally, she alleged that (Carter) raped her.”
After the woman reported the abuse to police in September 2004, Carter was arrested and indicted for violent offenses against the woman; he pleaded guilty to aggravated battery for seriously disfiguring the woman’s face, court records show.
Yet another woman is expected to testify that when she was in a relationship with Carter in Franklin County, he committed acts of physical and sexual violence on multiple occasions, many of which were reported to police in July 2010, according to court records. Carter was arrested and indicted for aggravated sodomy and family violence battery, but the case was dismissed at the victim’s request.
“Despite the dismissal, the State expects (the woman) to testify that these events happened just as she originally reported them,” Norris stated in his order.
According to the judge’s order, “The State expects to establish that Ms. Kilbury’s death was related to Defendant’s demands for sex and his violent reactions when his demands are not met. In addition, the prosecution plans to show that Defendant has demonstrated a pattern of enticing homeless, drug addicted, middle-aged women into his home and committing violent acts against them in order to satisfy his sexual desires.”
The judge ruled that women who had been romantically involved with and assaulted by Carter in Hart and Franklin counties can testify during the trial involving Kilbury’s alleged murder because their testimonies “are relevant to the issue of motive because they would assist the jury in answering the question of why Defendant would harm Ms. Kilbury.”
The woman who allegedly was assaulted in the same Athens residence where Kilbury died, cannot testify in the murder case because unlike the other victims, she was not romantically involved with Carter, Norris ruled.
“Thus, the logical connection is not present in this case,” the judge wrote. “Therefore (the woman’s) testimony is not relevant to the issue of motive” in Kilbury’s alleged murder. “Norris concluded his order by stating, “This ruling is open for reconsideration once the trial has started and the evidence begins to unfold.”
No further proceedings were currently docketed for this case.
Carter has been held at the country jail since his arrest, with bail not being set for the murder charges.