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Title: Richland native guilty of attempted murder

Source: Tri-City Herald

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Richland native guilty of attempted murder

This story was published 2/28/2002

By John Trumbo
Herald staff writer

A 20-year-old Marine who grew up in Richland was convicted Wednesday of attempting to kill a California woman in a seaside resort town.

A Monterey County jury deliberated a little more than two hours before declaring Jesse Jay Carson guilty of attempted premeditated murder in the Nov. 11, 2000, attack.

Carson told a jury he was doing research on serial killers for a novel when he and a fellow Marine pounced on the woman, stabbing her 12 times and slashing her throat twice before leaving her for dead.

Upon hearing the guilty verdict, the victim's parents burst into tears, while Carson's mother, Joan Clarke of Richland, collapsed into the arms of her sister and reportedly fainted in the courtroom after the bailiffs cleared other observers from the room.

Carson, a 1999 Richland High School graduate, contended the attack was part of a spontaneous, unpremeditated role-playing game.

But the woman, now 20 and identified only as "Brooke," lived to tell jurors the horrifying tale of her attack.

"Are you ready to die?" she recalled one of them asking her. "It's your day."

She started pleading for her life, and tried to get away, kicking at them, until they pinned her to the ground near a cliff. Then they began to stab her, one man on each side, according to news accounts in the Monterey Herald.

The conviction includes two enhancements for causing great bodily injury and using a deadly weapon. The trial began Monday in Salinas.

Carson faces 11 years to life in prison.

Carson grew up in Richland and was known as Jesse Clarke, taking his stepfather's last name. He changed his name to his birth name, Carson, when he joined the Marines.

As a Marine, Carson was enrolled in the Russian-language program at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey.

Carson was a lance corporal when he and Pvt. Jason Blad, 21, were arrested March 15 at Camp Pendleton after authorities found Carson's journal in his barracks.

Deputy District Attorney Edward Hazel used the journal and a 41-page letter written when Carson attempted suicide in November to depict Carson's fantasies about serial killers.

The Monterey newspaper reported in a copyrighted story published Tuesday that Carson wrote in his journal:

"So now she's on the ground, on her chest and I'm still stabbing her. ... My knife scraped her spine. ... It was an interesting feeling."

A passer-by alarmed the attackers, who ran off, but not before the victim saw their dark pants, tucked into their boots military style, the newspaper reported. The victim later identified Carson and Blad in separate photo lineups.

Carson portrayed himself in letters written last year from jail to the Monterey County Herald as being a victim of an unhappy childhood.

Testimony from the victim and her attacker captivated the jury while family members from both sides endured the chilling account, occasionally crying softly. Carson's stepfather also attended the trial.

High school friend Jason Smith said he could not believe the man he knew as Jesse Clarke could do something so vile.

"I just wish I could go down there and see him and ask why and how. I never expected Jesse, out of all my friends, would end up doing something like this or be convicted," said Smith, a student at Gonzaga University in Spokane.

The Monterey newspaper's account said Carson admitted stabbing the woman, but denied it was premeditated. Carson said he and Blad went out that evening on a "night ops," a term for unsanctioned military maneuvers in which Marines wear dark clothing and conduct make-believe reconnaissance missions in the woods or on dark streets.

The game turned serious when the two young men saw the victim walking alone on the trail.

According to the Monterey newspaper, Carson said he and Blad joked about how they would kill someone that night. A week earlier the two men had played the same game, but were foiled when the intended victim's boyfriend showed up on the trail, the newspaper reported.

It went differently this time.

"When we came upon her, without really thinking, we just basically acted precisely as we were joking we would act," Carson calmly told the jury Tuesday, according to the Monterey County Herald.

"I know for a fact that had (Blad) not grabbed her, we would have just walked right by and nothing would have happened," Carson said.

Blad will be tried separately in April.

Virginia Hennessey of the Monterey County (Calif.) Herald contributed to this report.

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