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March 18, 1993
Author: Lori Caldwell, Staff writer
The jury didn’t buy Dale Carter’s defense that a combination of drinking, Prozac and schizophrenia prevented him from knowing what he was doing when he tried to rob a convenience store in 1991.
A seven-women, five-men jury found Carter, 23, guilty of attempted robbery, a Class C felony, after deliberating about an hour Wednesday afternoon.
Carter, of South Haven, will be sentenced by Porter Superior Court Judge Thomas W. Webber at 9 a.m. April 16. He faces up to eight years in prison.
Defense attorney Terry Johnston argued that Carter was unable to ”formulate intent” to rob the Clark Mart at U.S. 6 and Meridian Road in Liberty Township and asked the jury to find his client not guilty.
In his closing argument, Johnston said Carter is a schizophrenic who had been drinking and taking Prozac Oct. 26, 1991.
A security camera recorded Carter’s entrance into the store. He walked behind the counter and demanded money from store clerk Steve Cowsert, who replied, “No way; we don’t give out money here.”
The two men struggled, and Cowsert sprayed mace in Carter’s face, Cowsert said earlier. At one point, Cowsert added, Carter claimed his friend had a bomb and would blow up the store.
The defense lawyer agreed that Carter told an emergency medical technician who treated him at the scene, “I f’d up.”
But asking what that phrase might mean, Johnston said, “The state would say, ‘I didn’t spray paint on the security cameras, I didn’t cover my face, I didn’t plan this long enough.’ But it could also mean he came into his senses … it was one of these momentary things that all went haywire.”
Deputy prosecutor Michael Dreuth reviewed for the jury a list of witnesses who testified Carter was able to walk without assistance and answer questions coherently after his arrest.
“Mental illness is not now nor has never been a defense to a crime in the state of Indiana,” Dreuth said in his closing arguments.
Prozac, an anti-depressant, doesn’t affect the ability to know right from wrong, Dreuth added, picking apart Johnston’s defense.
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