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Trial Begins For Man Accused Of Drowning Stepdaughter

January 9, 1996

QUANAH, Texas (AP) _ Tammy Bailey often thought her ex-husband had been violent around their children. So when she appeared on a television talk show last year, she warned his new wife ``she better watch her children.″

Ten days later, one of those children was dead, and her former husband was charged with drowning his year-old stepdaughter in an aquarium.

At his arraignment, Bobby Dale ``Bo″ Carter Jr. hummed the theme to ``Perry Mason.′

His wife, Kristy, also was charged with murder for allegedly watching her husband and doing nothing. She will not be tried, however _ she hanged herself with a telephone cord in jail.

Today, the bizarre story began a new chapter. Jury selection got under way in Carter’s murder trial. Attorneys in a Childress courtroom asked 150 potential jurors whether they could return a fair verdict based on the evidence. If convicted, the 29-year-old Air Force electrician could face the death penalty.

Amberlynn Kane’s death last March and her mother’s suicide three months later attracted so much attention in this northwest Texas town that state District Judge Tom Neely moved the trial.

``It was a shock to the community,″ Hardeman County Sheriff Randy Akers said. ``There were lots of opinions on it.″

The trial is being held in Childress, 30 miles northwest of Quanah and 110 miles northeast of Lubbock.

Prosecutor Dan Mike Bird and both of Carter’s court-appointed attorneys, Earl Griffin and Greg Buckley, refused to comment on the case.

But Kristy Carter, 23, described the night of her daughter’s death in a statement to investigators after her arrest.

She said she heard her husband yell, ``What are you doing?″ at Amberlynn. When she walked into a bedroom, she said, she saw him submerging her daughter in the small fish tank.

``I screamed at him to stop, but he didn’t,″ she said. ``I froze. I didn’t do anything. I just stood there. She went limp, and he let go of her and backed up.″

Mrs. Carter said her husband only attempted to resuscitate Amberlynn after they both spent about 20 minutes walking around outside, deciding to say that the toddler had fallen into the aquarium while playing.

Flowers and a teddy bear adorn the cemetery plot where Amberlynn is buried next to Carter’s sister, who was shot to death in 1981 at age 15. On her other side lies Carter’s 8-month-old son, whose death in 1991 sent the boy’s mother _ Tammy Bailey _ to a federal prison camp for 14 months.

On Maury Povich’s show, taped 10 days before Amberlynn drowned, Ms. Bailey blamed Bobby Weldon Carter’s death on natural causes stemming from his premature birth. She said she only pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment out of fear her three other children with Carter would lose Air Force medical benefits.

Carter was not implicated in his son’s death.

But Ms. Bailey said he was often abusive, sometimes putting their three other children in danger.

``It’s a bunch of lies,″ he retorted on the Povich show.

``You’re full of bull,″ she said.

Ms. Bailey also warned Mrs. Carter to ``watch″ her two stepdaughters and the daughter she had with Carter.

The episode, broadcast last summer, closed with an eerie postscript noting Carter’s indictments in Amberlynn’s death.

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