Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Tommy Nail was appointed to preside over the murder case involving Robert “Bob” Carleton, 48, of Pell City, who is accused of murdering his 67-year-old father, William “Bill” Randoph Carleton Sr.
Nail was appointed by the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts to preside over the murder case after St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Charles Robinson recused himself from the case in May.
Robinson stepped down from the criminal case because he is hearing a civil case involving a land dispute between the Carleton family. Robinson also has health problems, and his doctor told him he needed to cut down on his stress.
Nail, a graduate of Jacksonville State University and Birmingham School of Law, has worked as a circuit judge with the Jefferson County Criminal Division since 1999.
He has also served nine years as a Jefferson County deputy district attorney and was in private practice for 15 years.
Nail met with the state prosecutors and defense attorneys involved in the murder case for the first time Thursday at the St. Clair County Courthouse in Pell City.
Defense attorneys Eskine Funderburg and Van Davis allege their client shot and killed Carleton Sr. in an act of self-defense.
In December 2009, the St. Clair County District Attorney’s Office recused itself from the case at the request of members of the Carleton family. That month, the Alabama State Attorney General’s Office appointed Madison County District Attorney Robert L. Broussard of Huntsville “or his designated assistant district attorney” to prosecute the case.
Madison County Assistant District Attorneys Jay Town and Tim Gann are prosecuting the case for the state.
Town said in May he was confident with the state’s case against Carleton.
A St. Clair County grand jury indicted Carleton for the murder of his father in June 2009.
Nail tentatively set the criminal trial date for Sept. 27. He also gave the defense until Aug. 10 to file any motions pertaining to the case. The state will have two weeks to respond to any motions filed by the defense.
According to testimony heard in Carleton’s preliminary hearing last year, the son told authorities he shot his father once with a shotgun in self-defense.
He told investigators his father reached for a .22 caliber Winchester rifle in a gun rack of the ATV he was driving.
The victim also had a Glock .40 caliber pistol in his possession, which was wrapped in a towel.
St. Clair County Coroner Dennis Russell said the victim died from a gunshot wound to the head.
The shooting happened March 2009 along an access road to the family’s farm property on Wolf Creek Road South and approximately four-tenths of a mile north of the Camp Creek Road intersection.
There was an apparent ongoing dispute between the father and son about the family property. Just prior to the alleged murder, Robinson ruled in a civil case that the son could have access to the family farm for hunting and fishing.
Carleton has remained free on a $250,000 bond. According to conditions of his bond, he must have no contact with the Carleton family, other than his mother, wife and son. He must also remain off the family’s estate, currently involved in litigation.
Carleton is charged with a Class A felony, punishable by 20 years to life in prison, because a firearm was used in the alleged murder.
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