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Trial for 2021 Muddy Creek Township homicide suspect set for April 17

Paris E. Carter

The homicide trial for a Chester County man accused of shooting a man in the back of his head in May 2021 in Muddy Creek Township is scheduled to begin April 17 in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

Paris Elias Carter, 24, of Downingtown, is charged with killing David A. Hines, 38, of New Castle. Hines’ body was found May 17 in his vehicle along Portersville Road near Route 422 and Interstate 79. Carter is being held without bail in the Butler County Prison.

Jury selection is set to begin April 13.

At a hearing Friday, March 31, Senior Judge William Shaffer told attorneys that he recommends the selection of four alternate jurors instead of the usual two “out of a super abundance of caution.”

Assistant district attorney Robert Zanella said he expects the trial to last two or three days.

Shaffer heard arguments on defense attorney Thomas Ness’ motion challenging some of the evidence Zanella wants to use in the trial.

Arguments centered around a video taken inside a minivan during a May 20 Lyft ride in Atlanta, Ga., where Paris Carter allegedly shot his brother, Dante Carter. He was not killed in the shooting.

The Carters, Hines and another New Castle man were in Hines’ vehicle when he was shot in Butler County, according to testimony from Paris Carter’s preliminary hearing last year. The other man from New Castle was driving Hines’ vehicle at the time.

Zanella said Friday that the Carters fled to Georgia following the shooting, and Paris Carter shot Dante Carter because he saw him shoot Hines.

The video, which was played during the hearing, didn’t appear to capture the shooting, but it shows the passengers and the Lyft driver exiting the van after the sound of a reported gunshot.

Zanella said Dante Carter has been subpoenaed to testify, but his whereabouts are unknown. He said it was learned that Dante Carter was in a rehabilitation facility in Massachusetts, but he was not there when law enforcement officials tried to serve him with a subpoena.

He said Dante Carter is dodging the subpoena because he is in fear for his life and is afraid of Paris Carter.

The video should be allowed as evidence because it proves Paris Carter had “consciousness of guilt” about shooting Hines and that he fled to Georgia with his brother to avoid prosecution, Zanella said.

He said the video shows the tattooed hand of a person in the back seat reaching toward someone in the front seat, and the tattoo matches the tattoo on Paris Carter’s hand.

Ness said the video shows Paris Carter in the back seat and Dante Carter in the front seat, but it does not provide a motive or explanation for the shooting of Hines.

In addition, Ness said Paris Carter has been indicted in Georgia for allegedly shooting his brother, but Zanella can’t prove Paris Carter shot Dante Carter.

Shaffer did not immediately issue a ruling.

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