By Jim Miles
A little after four o’clock one morning in July, 1993, Fayette County resident Taylor C. Carthen ran from his home on Madison Place and began hammering on neighbor’s doors, shouting and firing a 9mm Glock pistol into the air. At the end of the block he shattered a glass door with a bullet and entered. Fortunately, the residents were on vacation and no one was harmed.
“He was shouting, ‘They’re after me! They’re going to kill me!” testified Rod Hill, who spotted the wild eyed man standing outside his garage with a gun. “He was ranting and raving. He was a mad man.” Hill pushed his wife and daughter to the floor and later said, “He terrorized my family.”
Carthen soon found himself under arrest and was indicted for burglary, criminal damage to property, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and discharging that weapon on private property and near a public road, and possession of cocaine.
Evidence of Voodoo
In Valdosta in late January, 1995, a woman visiting her mother’s three-month-old grave in Sunset Cemetery noticed a plastic bag poking out of the soil. Inside the bag were four mason jars filled with liquid and small dolls made of cloth. The names of witnesses and court officials involved in the Carthen case, which was soon to be tried in Fayette County, were written on the dolls in red ink, and an “X” was marked across the heart of each.
“We were going to find a doctor to un-hoodoo us,” chuckled District Attorney Johnnie Caldwell, Jr., whose name was included in the voodoo cache. “I’m not concerned.”
Valdosta Police Captain James Waters, who consulted an occult professional, was informed that the objects were meant to “confuse the witnesses, to mess up the trial,” but were not intended to hurt anyone. “I was told once the jars were opened,” he continued, “the spell was broken.”
Agreeing that the incidents might prejudice jurors, Superior Court Judge Paschal A. English, Jr., ruled that the voodoo incident could not be mentioned during the trial.
In court Carthen’s lawyers claimed that some of the wild shooting was justified. They said Carthen was awakened by the sound of his garage door opening. Believing robbers or killers were after him, he fired his gun and ran to his neighbor’s for help, but no one would assist him. “Mr. Carthen was running for his life,” one attorney asserted.
Out on bail, Carthen returned to his neighbors, offering to pay damages and apologizing for his actions. After his conviction he asked their help in keeping him out of jail. A jury deliberated for two hours before declaring him guilty, and a condition of his bond pending appeal was to contact no one in the neighborhood. At the sentencing, English gave Carthen eight years in prison and seven years on parole.
In one final bit of weirdness, at the sentencing phase Carthen attempted to avoid jail by offering to establish a $120,000 school program for children of Fayette County police officers.
“That’s just buying your way to probation,” English stated, calling it “a noble gesture,” but rejected the offer because it would be unfair to poor defendants.
That ploy did succeed in another criminal trial. In 1994 Cobb County District Attorney Tom Charron reduced the prison sentence of Markel Boulis in exchange for a $200,000 contribution to a policeman’s benevolence fund. A state law was later passed forbidding such practices.
Jim Miles is the author of two Weird Georgia books, seven books about Georgia ghosts and eight books about the Civil War. To see all of his books go to the Jim Miles Author Page on Amazon. Order autographed books or contact Jim directly at firstname.lastname@example.org