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Man who was mistakenly released plans insanity plea

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A defense attorney told a judge Tuesday that a man who was mistakenly freed from jail by a Kanawha judge last month intends to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

Jeremy Lee Carter, 33, of Tennessee was indicted on a charge of attempted kidnapping in April. He was arrested last fall and accused of trying to snatch a child from a stroller in South Charleston.

Circuit Judge Carrie Webster signed an order in Carter's case that a circuit clerk apparently interpreted as a dismissal, prompting the jail release. The judge at first took responsibility for the error but later said the fault belonged to the clerk who didn't read the order correctly.

That action sparked an investigation by the state Supreme Court.

Carter was apprehended four days after his release at a home on Riverside Drive in South Charleston. He was returned to jail and his $150,000 bond was reinstated.

On Tuesday, Carter appeared in court for his arraignment, but his defense attorney, Dennis Bailey, asked the judge to defer the hearing.

Bailey said, "He has undergone a psychological evaluation and found to be competent, but the issue of criminal responsibility is different."

Authorities have said Carter has been in and out of mental health treatment most of his life.

Bailey and Assistant Prosecutor Ken Starcher said they expect Carter to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity at his next court appearance, scheduled for later this month.

"The next step is does he pose a risk to society as a whole," Bailey said. "And if so, he may need to be hospitalized."

Webster expressed concern that Carter might not be receiving mental health treatment at the regional jail and said she wants his case moved along as quickly as possible so he can get treatment.

Carter told the judge he is being kept in isolation and not being given the medications he was taking at the time of his arrest. His attorney said he has been treated in the past for schizophrenia.

The possible sentence for attempted kidnapping in West Virginia is one to three years in prison. Instead, Webster is likely to order him kept at a mental hospital for that time period if she adjudges him not guilty by reason of insanity.

Carter wrote a letter to the Daily Mail after he was returned to South Central Regional Jail, objecting to his re-arrest.

"I was released because I should have been and will be again soon," he wrote.

Carter is also wanted in Tennessee for failing to appear to answer charges there. His attorney said those were driving offenses

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at or 304-348-4832.


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