Toxicology fails to explain killing — (Amarillo Globe-News)

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Amarillo Globe-News

Posted: September 23, 2010 – 2:53am

 Gary Don Carner: Killed during Aug. 4 crime spree.

By JANELLE STECKLEIN

An Amarillo man who killed an Oklahoma grandmother protecting her granddaughter outside a truck stop last month had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit, police said.

Toxicology results from 58-year-old Gary Don Carner’s autopsy indicate his blood-alcohol level was 0.17 and 0.24 at the time, said Potter-Randall Special Crimes Lt. Gary Trupe. Two different tests were conducted on Carner’s remains, which is why there were two different totals, he said. Tests also indicated he had a prescription painkiller and an antidepressant in his blood at the time, he said.

Trupe said authorities will likely never know why Carner turned violent the night of Aug. 3. He first tried to abduct a 31-year-old woman outside an Amarillo convenience store and then fatally shot Sharrel Blankenbaker, 63, of Felt, Okla., who stepped in to stop Carner from taking her 12-year-old granddaughter outside Love’s Country Store, 14701 W. Interstate 40. He fled Love’s and then abducted an 11-year-old girl walking nearby on Indian Hills Road. Minutes later, Carner was shot and killed by Potter County deputy Steve White, who identified Carner in his vehicle while on patrol.

White was cleared by a Potter County grand jury earlier this month for his role in the incident.

“We still never determined anything that he had in his past that could have triggered this,” Trupe said. “Why all of a sudden this man, who had no criminal history, no history of sexual offenses would do this. The only person who could tell us this is deceased.”

He said he couldn’t speculate whether the combination of drugs and alcohol would have sparked the incident.

Investigators found that Carner spent the last hours of his life at Duke Tracy’s bar, 3101 S.W. 26th Ave., Trupe said.

“He wasn’t a regular there,” he said. “He was in there drinking several hours prior to this.”

Bar patrons told investigators that Carner was a stranger and came alone. Carner bought several rounds for patrons while he was there, witnesses said.

“But they didn’t know him,” Trupe said.

Carner’s family continues to cooperate in the investigation, but Trupe said the motives behind that night will remain a mystery.

“It’s a tragic deal,” Trupe said. “His family would like to know completely what is going on also. (But) I’m not sure there’s a whole lot more of an investigation we can do.”