Content warning: This article contains references to sexual violence.
EVANSVILLE — A jury heard opening arguments Monday as prosecutors sought to prove that an Indiana woman aided and abetted her ex-boyfriend when he allegedly murdered a man, repeatedly raped a woman and held them hostage inside a house on Evansville's West Side last year.
The defense attorney for Heidi Kathleen Carter, 37, told jurors Monday she was an unwitting victim who would not be facing trial had the ex-boyfriend, Carey David Hammond, not been shot by police following a standoff.
Carter was arrested and charged Oct. 19, 2021, after police responded to a reported kidnapping and murder in the 1800 block of Stinson Avenue.
A surviving female victim later told investigators that what began as an internet hookup between Carter, herself and her boyfriend unexpectedly devolved into gruesome violence when Hammond came to the house and discovered them having sex.
Hammond allegedly broke down the bedroom door and restrained the woman and her boyfriend, 50-year-old Timothy Scott Ivy, before proceeding to subject the pair to hours of abuse, police wrote in a probable cause affidavit.
According to prosecutors, Hammond choked Ivy to death with a belt and raped Ivy's girlfriend multiple times. Ivy's girlfriend, who survived, told jurors Monday that Carter held her at gunpoint while Hammond raped her.
Police shot and killed Hammond when he emerged from the house later that night holding what authorities thought was a gun. It turned out to be an object twisted into the shape of gun. Authorities later said they believed Hammond committed "suicide by cop."
Vanderburgh County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Emily Hall said during opening arguments Monday that she is "confident the evidence will show she (Carter) is just as culpable as Hammond."
Prosecutors initially charged Carter with felony murder and rape, but those charges were dropped in November when the state opted to instead charge Carter with accessory to murder and accessory to rape.
Carter also faces two counts of criminal confinement while armed with a deadly weapon, a Level 3 felony, criminal confinement resulting in serious bodily injury, a Level 3 felony, and carrying a handgun without a license, a Level 6 felony.
Prosecutor, surviving witness describe brutal attack
Hall first asked jurors to travel back in time to Oct. 14, 2021, five days before a torrent of violence would leave Ivy dead and a woman physically and mentally traumatized.
Oct. 14 is the day Carter reportedly met Ivy's girlfriend on Taimi, a dating app for LGBTQ people, Hall said. Carter allegedly sent the first message to Ivy's girlfriend, who told investigators she went on to text with Carter over the next several days.
What complicated a hookup, Hall said, was the fact both women had boyfriends. Ivy was reportedly comfortable with the proposed meetup for sex, but Carter implied to Ivy's girlfriend that Hammond was not.
But according to prosecutors, Carter told Ivy's girlfriend she'd broken it off with Hammond on Oct. 19, and Ivy and his girlfriend ended up traveling to the Stinson Avenue residence around 4 a.m. that morning.
Hall said the three engaged in consensual sex after taking methamphetamine.
The violence began, according to Monday's testimony from Ivy's surviving girlfriend, when Hammond unexpectedly arrived at the Stinson Avenue home. Carter lived on the first floor, while the residence's owner, Jason Harvey, occupied the second floor with his children.
Hammond, according to the woman's testimony, rushed into the bedroom and began beating Ivy "all over" with a baseball bat. Hammond then turned the bat onto her.
"It was the worst pain that I've ever had," she told jurors. "Sheer, blinding pain."
Ivy was then restrained with duct tape, according to his girlfriend. It took "more than one person" to restrain him, but she could not recall "who did what."
Hammond then allegedly tied her to the bed using restraints. She couldn't move more than one or two inches in any direction, she said.
Victim describes escalation of violence
The surviving victim admits her mental timeline of what happened, and in what order, is jumbled.
But, certain moments are vivid, and the fact she consumed methamphetamine earlier in the evening did not impact her memory, she told jurors.
At one point, Carter and Hammond searched through both her and Ivy's phone for personal information such as home addresses, she said. The woman told jurors that, at some time during the night, Carter instructed Hammond to do "anything that he wanted."
According to the woman's testimony, Hammond proceeded to rape her while Carter held her at gunpoint
Under oath, she told jurors she saw Carter moving around with a gun in her peripheral vision. At times, she said, Carter directed Hammond during the rape, telling him to do things that violated the "limits" they'd discussed before engaging in the earlier, consensual sex.
When asked by Hall to describe Carter's demeanor during the rape, the woman said Carter appeared "excitable."
Ivy, who was still restrained and badly injured, began to get "louder and louder" as time went on, his girlfriend told jurors. Hammond eventually strangled Ivy with a belt, she said.
Hammond reportedly rolled Ivy's lifeless body into a rug, the sight of which caused Ivy's girlfriend to pass out. Later that day, Ivy's girlfriend said she observed both Carter and Hammond moving the body.
According to a police affidavit, Carter admitted to investigators she offered to help Hammond move Ivy's body, but said she did not actually follow through.
A Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office deputy would eventually rescue Ivy's girlfriend after a woman visiting the Stinson Avenue residence discovered Ivy's body and heard her cries for help.
A victim, not a perpetrator
Carter's defense attorney, Barry Blackard, rebuked the narrative that she played an active role in Ivy's murder or the rape of his girlfriend.
In his opening remarks, Blackard told jurors that if it wasn't for Hammond's death at the hands of law enforcement, they would not be here today.
"Because he is dead, because he was killed by police, the State of Indiana had to choose their perpetrator, and that's Heidi Carter," he said.
Blackard argued the testimony and evidence ultimately show his client was a victim rather than a perpetrator.
It was Hammond who killed Ivy and raped his girlfriend, Blackard told the jury. The jury did not have to deem Carter "innocent," but jurors should find her not guilty of aiding Hammond, Blackard argued.
"I would ask you that when you hear all the evidence, you do not convict Heidi Carter for crimes another person committed," he said.
According to the police affidavit, Carter told detectives in an interview she helped restrain Ivy and his girlfriend, but that she was only "pretending" to help in order to appease Hammond.
Other key witnesses take the stand
Cynthia Weinzapfel is the woman who alerted police to the alleged murder-kidnapping, ultimately freeing Ivy's girlfriend from captivity.
She took the stand Monday to tell jurors about the experience she had Oct. 19 – how she eventually felt trapped inside the Stinson Avenue residence herself, how she discovered Ivy's body, and how she rushed to alert an off-duty Indiana State Police officer of the situation despite having an active warrant for her arrest.
While being questioned by Hall, Weinzapfel told jurors she met Carter through work, and that the pair used drugs together.
Prosecutors noted that Weinzapfel has prior convictions for false informing and fraud, and as of Monday afternoon, Weinzapfel remained incarcerated while awaiting trial for a theft charge.
Carter allegedly met up with Weinzapfel on Oct. 19 after she left the Stinson Avenue residence to travel to a job site, where she found Weinzapfel working. Carter, according to prosecutors, asked Weinzapfel for help cleaning her house.
Because Weinzapfel was homeless at the time, she told jurors she agreed to help; she'd do any job for some extra money.
Upon arrival at the Stinson Avenue home, Weinzapfel said the smell of dog feces was overpowering. The house was moldy and covered in clutter. She smoked methamphetamine with Carter and Hammond, but told jurors she's been using the drug since the age of 12, and a few hits from a pipe have little effect on her.
"Then I started cleaning," she testified.
Weinzapfel said Carter and Hammond argued constantly.
At one point, Carter left to purchase cigarettes and food. But, Carter returned from the store empty handed, and the argument between her and Hammond resumed, Weinzapfel said. The quarrel eventually shifted to a car key that had apparently gotten lost.
Weinzapfel said Hammond demanded to strip search her for the key, and at one point said he would "smash (her) head in like he did earlier."
At this point, Weinzapfel said she told Carter and Hammond she would like to leave, but Carter allegedly said that "wouldn't be a good idea." Hammond had taken Weinzapfel's cellphone, so she couldn't call 911.
She would eventually get the phone back, she told jurors, but Hammond and Carter caught her using it in the bathroom.
This entire time, Ivy's body allegedly sat rolled in a rug and buried under clothes and other clutter inside the home. Under questioning from Hall, Weinzapfel said Carter and Hammond described that area as "the Christmas tree."
Weinzapfel's suspicions grew when Carter allegedly told Hammond to keep the dogs away from the "Christmas tree" because it smelled. A while later, Weinzapfel said she sat down on the supposed Christmas tree, reached down, and discovered Ivy's body.
"At that point, it was 'get out,'" she told jurors, tearing up.
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Carter and Hammond knew Weinzapfel discovered the body, she said, and the two appeared "defeated." As Weinzapfel yelled in fear about the horrifying discovery, she said she heard Ivy's girlfriend crying for help from the bedroom.
As Hammond ranted about "everything going wrong," Weinzapfel said she fled the home and hid in Carter's van for a short time until Carter entered the vehicle while searching for her.
Then she bolted.
To Weinzapfel's surprise, just down the street sat an Indiana State Police patrol car. She alerted the off-duty state trooper to the kidnapping – despite having an active warrant out for her arrest.
Law enforcement soon surrounded the home and set up a perimeter, according to police. Carter exited the home and was taken into custody. Hammond exited with what appeared to be a firearm and was fatally shot by law enforcement.
A Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Deputy rescued Ivy's girlfriend, who by this point was suffering from a severe headwound.
Several law enforcement officers present during the operation took the stand Monday to recount what they observed, as did EPD crime scene investigators.
What to expect during Day Two
On Monday, jurors heard from eight witnesses, reviewed police body camera and Ring doorbell footage, and reviewed more than 120 pieces of evidence, including the baseball bat Hammond is alleged to have used Oct. 19.
Hall said the trial was moving speedily, and Vanderburgh County Circuit Court Judge David Kiely said the jury could begin deliberations as early as Tuesday, but the trial could stretch into a third day if witness testimony began late Tuesday afternoon.
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During the trial's second day, Hall said the state expects to show jurors body camera footage from at least four additional law enforcement officers present during the operation to rescue Ivy's girlfriend and arrest Carter and Hammond.
The state also plans to exhibit approximately two hours of interviews EPD detectives conducted with Carter following her arrest.
Carter has not yet decided if she will take the stand in her own defense, Blackard told Kiely as Monday's hearing came to a close.
Houston Harwood can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas and questions. Twitter: @houston_whh.
This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: Evansville murder: Heidi Carter on trial in Stinson Avenue case