Carpenter pleads not guilty to murder

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SANDPOINT — A Coeur d’Alene woman pleaded not guilty earlier this week to the first-degree murder of Shirley Ann Ramey, a retired city clerk who was found shot to death in her Hope home two years ago.

Judith Marie Carpenter, 57, entered the plea in a brief five-minute hearing Jan. 13 in First District Court. She remains held at the Bonner County Jail with bail set at $1 million.

Carpenter waived her right to a speedy trial, setting the stage for an eight-day trial beginning June 9.

A pre-trial conference was set for May 22.

The plea hearing followed a notice by Carpenter’s attorney, Coeur d’Alene attorney Joseph R. Sullivan, that he would be filing a confidential mental health and competency evaluation. The evaluation “contains highly intimate statements of which would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person and confidential health information,” he said in the motion filed on Jan. 9.

Carpenter is accused of gunning Ramey down on the deck of her Trestle Creek Road home on April 5, 2017. A criminal complaint alternately alleges first-degree murder or first-degree murder during the commission of a burglary.

At an Oct. 2, 2019, hearing, Bonner County Sheriff’s Detective Matthew Wallace told the court that there were no obvious signs of a burglary. A purse and other valuables in the home were in plain sight. However, a Savage Model 99 — a .308-caliber, lever-action rifle — was later discovered missing from the residence, according to court documents.

He testified that two 9-millimeter shell casings were found on the home’s deck and a projectile was also found in an interior soffit above a bay window in the home’s living room.

The casings recovered from the killing were entered into the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms & Explosives’ National Integrated Ballistics Information Network, which allows for the high-definition capture and comparison of ballistic evidence. The casings were subsequently matched to a Glock semiautomatic pistol that was being held by sheriff’s officials in Lincoln County, Mont.

The Glock belonged to Carpenter, who was charged in Montana with threatening another motorist with a gun the same day Ramey was killed. Authorities there also seized a Savage Model 99 that was found in Carpenter’s possession.

Detective Phil Stella testified at the October hearing that the rifle had not yet been reported to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center as stolen weapon.

Stella also testified that a cellphone tower communicated with Carpenter’s device in Sagle on the morning Shirley Ramey was killed. It pinged with a tower in Montana several hours later, he said.

Stuart Jacobson, a forensic analyst with Idaho State Police, testified that all of the recovered casings matched test-fired casings from Carpenter’s Glock through comparison microscope analyses of firing pin aperture shear, firing pin drag and other markings.

“In my opinion, they were a match,” Jacobson testified.

Caroline Lobsinger can be reached by email at and follow her on Twitter @CarolDailyBee.

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