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Tuesday, September 14, 1999

Comanche
Suspect charged with capital murder in teen’s death
By ANTHONY WILSON
Regional Editor

The man accused of killing a 15-year-old boy this weekend faces a more serious charge in Comanche’s first capital murder case in more than 23 years.

Lawmen on Monday upgraded the charge against James Milton Medley from murder to capital murder, saying he killed Raymond Carter on Saturday morning while kidnapping and sexually assaulting the boy.

If convicted, the 34-year-old Medley will be sentenced to either life in prison or death by injection.

Alerted by a 911 call from Medley, Comanche County sheriff’s deputies found Carter dead at Mesa Lake, a recently vacated facility for abused youth.

The first details of the crime surfaced Monday afternoon in a criminal complaint filed by sheriff’s investigator Patrick C. Hailey.

In an affidavit, Hailey wrote that Medley confessed to killing Carter in the 911 call to Brownwood police. Deputies arrived to find the boy had been shot repeatedly in the head and had apparently been sexually assaulted, Hailey said.

Preliminary autopsy results are due later this week.

Officers also recovered the suspected murder weapon, a .22-caliber revolver, from where Medley hid the gun, the complaint said. The defendant later admitted to Texas Ranger Joe Hudson that he shot Carter shortly after assaulting him and “holding him in a place where he was not likely to be found,” Hailey wrote.

However, District Attorney B.J. Shepherd said investigators are still grappling with how well the victim and defendant knew each other, how Carter got to Mesa Lake, the motive for the killing and why Medley confessed so readily.

“There’s a lot of evidence still outstanding,” Shepherd said. “There are a lot of things right now we don’t have the answers to.’’

Sheriff Billy Works said Medley worked as the groundskeeper at Mesa Lake, a residential treatment facility where the state placed about 20 boys who had been abused, neglected and removed from their families. Carter did not live at the facility, Works said.

Mesa Lake closed in early August, about a year after its opening. Local officials said they do not know why the facility closed.

The victim and the defendant lived in Brownwood, leading the sheriff to believe they probably knew one another.

Justice of the Peace Sue Brown arraigned Medley on the capital murder charge Monday morning, denying him bond — as she had on the previous charge of murder. Brown said Medley remained silent throughout the short hearing.

The community, however, is abuzz about the murder case, a rarity in this town of some 4,000 people.

Carter’s was the first murder of the year in Comanche, equaling the number of murders last year.

“We’ve never had anything like this before,” said 67-year-old librarian Margaret Waring, who has lived her entire life in Comanche. “I’m just horrified like anyone else. Those things don’t happen in a nice place like this. But it does happen here.”

She noted the defendant is an “outsider.”

“Why does this have to happen on our watch in our community?’’ she asked.

Comanche’s last capital murder was in April 1976, when pharmacist Ted Durham was found dead in the back of his drugstore, his hands and feet bound by tape and his throat slashed. Evidence later showed Durham surprised his killers as they were burglarizing his store of drugs and $300 cash.

Richard Dwain Smith was sentenced to death for his role in the murder. The sentence was later overturned on appeal and Smith pleaded guilty in exchange for a life sentence.

Accomplice Dennis Neal Ripley pleaded guilty to burglary in exchange for a 15-year sentence.

Both men were from Comanche.

District Attorney Shepherd said he will present Medley’s case to the grand jury in October. He expects the investigation will continue for several weeks.

 

Anthony Wilson can be reached at (800) 588-6397 or 676-6764 or wilsona@abinews.com.

 

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