Katelyn Markham murder case: Suspect John Carter’s court documents trickle in months before trial

Carter was indicted in March after a long investigation by the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office.

The trial of the man accused of killing Fairfield’s Katelyn Markham in 2011 is 10 months away, but court documents are continuing to trickle in from the prosecution while the defense has yet to file a motion ahead of an October hearing.

On Sept. 15, four days after Carter’s status report hearing was continued by Butler County Common Pleas Judge Dan Haughey to Oct. 17, prosecutors filed a “bill of particulars” in the case.

A bill of particulars is to provide the defendant with the specific nature of the offense charged and the conduct of the defendant which is alleged to constitute the offense, according to the Ohio Revised Code. The document in Carter’s case says less than what Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said at Carter’s bond hearing months ago.

Carter is charged under two sections of the murder statute, according to indictment: The first for allegedly purposely causing the death of Markham and the second for allegedly causing her death as “the proximate result of the offender’s committing or attempting to commit an offense of violence ...”

The “particulars” in the document involve Carter’s changing statements about scratches on his face and the determination from Markham’s remains that she had sharp force trauma to her left wrist.

Specifically, the bill of particulars states: “During the late hours of Aug. 13, 2011 through the early morning hours of Aug. 14, 2011, starting in the area of 5214 Dorshire Drive in the city of Fairfield, Butler County, Ohio, John Carter by physical violence and by force did cause the death of Katelyn Markham.”

The bill continues with “Around 8 p.m. on Aug. 14, 2011, the Fairfield Police responded to the report of a missing person and saw multiple scratches on John Carter’s neck. When John Carter was confronted about the scratch marks he told officers that they came from shaving with his electric razor attachment. Later John Carter said he scratched himself on the neck and then said he doesn’t know how the scratches happened. On April 7, 2013 the remains of Katelyn Markham were discovered with incised wounds from sharp force trauma to the left wrist area.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Both the prosecution and defense attorney Chris Pagan had no response to the document and how the “particulars” relate to the two murder indictments.

But Gmoser did give a bit of an explanation of the two murder charges as they relate to the law.

“It would depend upon how the jury perceives the issue of the mental state of somebody with the issue of purpose and all the circumstances in the case that would develop that issue of purpose. And then if the jury cannot reach that conclusion of purpose, they are left with the opportunity to consider that there was a violent episode by Mr. Carter resulting in her death, which is felony murder as opposed to purposeful murder,” Gmoser said.

Markham’s death has been ruled a homicide by an Indiana coroner based on the totality of circumstances surrounding her disappearance and how her remains were found. But a cause of death could not be determined.

Carter, who is free after posting a $1 million bond, is charged with murder in the 2011 death of Markham, his fiancé at the time of her death. He was indicted in March after a months-long investigation by the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

Prosecutors have turned over three rounds of discovery to Carter’s defense team that include hundreds of items, some apparently obtained as recently as this summer.

Markham, a free-spirited art student, was just days away from her 22nd birthday when she vanished in August 2011 from her Fairfield townhouse. Her skeletal remains were found April 7, 2013 in a remote wooded area in Indiana about 30 miles from her home. Her death was ruled a homicide, but the cause of death has not been determined.

It remained unsolved until March 2023 when an 18-month investigation by the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office resulted in Carter’s arrest.

What happened to Markham and how she died has remained a mystery for years, despite a $100,000 reward and the efforts of multiple police agencies, private detectives, television shows and a movie.

Indiana State Police and at least two private detectives also investigated the case with no arrests — just lots of theories.

Markham’s disappearance was treated as a missing person case by Fairfield police when she vanished from her Dorshire Drive residence. She did not show up for work at David’s Bridal near Tri-County Mall.

Carter called 911 to report her missing.

Markham left her car, keys, dog and all personal belongings, with the exception of her cell phone, at her townhouse. Her cell phone was turned off at about 12:45 a.m. on Aug. 14, 2011. The GPS device on her phone also was turned off.

When the skeletal remains were found in April 2013 in a remote wooded area in Cedar Grove, Ind., within days, confirmation came that the remains were Markham’s.

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