Judge appoints attorney for wife accused in murder for hire plot



The woman accused in an alleged murder-for-hire plot was assigned an attorney Wednesday morning in Middletown Municipal Court.

Judge Mark Wall said the court had not been contacted by Lou Rubenstein, a Cincinnati-based lawyer as of this morning and wanted to make sure Shelly Carter had representation for her preliminary hearing on Friday.

Wall appointed Tamara Sack to represent Carter.

UPDATE, Sept. 26, 11:55 a.m.:

All four people connected in the alleged murder-for-hire case are scheduled to appear in court Friday afternoon. They all remain in Middletown City Jail, according to records.

Amy Wray, a spokesperson for the Carter family, said the family would release a statement following Friday’s preliminary hearings.

She said the family isn’t disclosing where Christian Carter is living, but said he’s with his two sons, ages 11 and 7.

Lou Rubenstein, a Cincinnati-based lawyer, told the Journal-News he talked to a friend of Shelly Carter’s over the weekend, and asked if they had the funds needed to retain an attorney. He hasn’t heard back, he said this morning.

UPDATE, Sept. 26, 10:30 a.m.:

Shelly Carter, 42, the Madison Twp. woman charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit murder, appeared this morning in Middletown Municipal Court, but she told Judge Mark Wall she hadn’t hired an attorney.

She said the first time she was given “an opportunity” to call an attorney was this morning and she left a phone message.

Wall set her next court date for Wednesday and told Carter if she hadn’t hired an attorney by then, the court would appoint her representation. He set her preliminary hearing for 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Family of the man Carter allegedly hired to be killed were in court, but they refused to comment.

UPDATE, Sept. 24 1:15 p.m.:

The target of an alleged murder-for-hire thanked the reluctant hitman during a press conference today for not killing him and his children.

“I want to thank the man (alleged hitman) who decided to save all my sons lives and mine,” said a visibly shaken Christian “Tony” Carter during a Saturday press conference in the parking lot of Middletown’s City Hall.

“For you we will be forever grateful,” said a teary Carter, whose wife is charged with attempting to arrange his and their children’s murder.

Police have reported the hitman instead tipped them off to Carter’s wife - Shelly Carter - of her alleged plans.

“As you, we were given a life-changing choice. And the outcome lead to me being able to stand here before you and say ‘thank you.’”

“I also want to thank the incredible work of the Middletown Police department for all the dedication in assuring the safety of my boys and myself. The outpouring of the community in support and the love and prayers from each and every one of you and the guardian angels that were watching over us and continue to do so,” said Carter.

Carter said he remains in disbelief.

“You never expect something like this to happen to you. You see it on TV and in the movies but you never expect it to happen. I’ve truly gone through every emotion you could think of,” he said.

“This will be continue to be a challenging time for our family,” he said, joined at the press conference by a handful of members. “But I have no doubt in my heart that we will only continue to grow as a family and continue to heal with the help of all those around us. Today we are truly blessed.”

In a statement read by a representative of Carter’s family, Amy Wray said “we would not be here today if (Butler County) children services hadn’t dropped the ball for months.”

“Within the last six months children services has been contacted and reports filed multiple times and chose to remain reactive not proactive. Shelly has repeatedly threatened her children with physical harm and in the last few months has made false domestic violence claims against Tony and his family.

UPDATE, Sept. 24, 12:15 p.m.

A spokesperson for the Carter family held a press conference at noon today to provide a statement and answer questions about the case against Shelly Carter, who is charged with hiring a hit man to kill her estranged husband Christian “Tony” Carter.

Amy Wray spoke for the family and offered a possible motive before Shelly Carter’s estranged husband addressed reporters at City Hall in Middletown.

Wray said the couple’s new home was Shelly Carter’s motivation to hire someone to kill her husband. She wanted the house to herself, according to Wray.

Christian “Tony” Carter told reporters he feels “blessed” to be here and his children are doing OK. He thanked Middletown police for foiling the plot against his life. He also thanked people in the community who have supported him through the ordeal.

UPDATE, Sept. 23, 1:30 P.M.:

Butler County Sheriff Deputies have been called to the home of Christian and Shelly Carter numerous times this year for domestic disputes, according to police records.

The couple has been going through a divorce and both are dating other people, according to records obtained by the Journal-News.

Deputies were called to the home on Browns Run Road nine times this year, including just six days ago, or one day after Christian Carter was to be killed by a hit man, police said.

In one call, Shelly Carter became upset at her father-in-law and slapped him, then on Feb. 12, she allegedly busted out the windshield and tail lights on her husband’s car, according to police reports.

On April 25, Christian Carter called because he was concerned about the well-being of their children.

The sheriff’s office was called out to the home May 2 when Christian Carter and his girlfriend were in the home and Shelly Carter came home.

Then on Sept. 17, deputies were called to the home because Shelly Carter was letting the air out of the couple’s car, according to a police report.

UPDATE, Sept. 23, 10 A.M.:

The four people connected in a murder-for-hire case appeared in Middletown Municipal Court this morning.

Bond was set at $750,000 for Shelly Carter, 42, of Madison Twp., who was charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder after she allegedly paid someone to kill her estranged husband.

Carter told Judge Mark Wall that she was trying to hire an attorney.

Casey Fryman, 32, and Sarah Fryman, 21, of Middletown, were charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder because they arranged the meeting with the hit man, police said. Their bond was set at $250,000 each.

Bond was set at $50,000 for Carter’s boyfriend, Ryan Stark, 23, who police found inside the Madison Inn in Madison Twp. Stark, who has a previous felony conviction, was charged with having weapons under disability and possessing a firearm in a liquor establishment, police said. He was carrying a loaded .22 caliber handgun when police found him, police said.

Carter had paid a hit man $1,000 to kill her estranged husband, Christian Carter, of Madison Twp., police said. Christian Carter was supposed to be killed Sept. 16, but the couple’s two children, ages 11 and 7, were in the car.

That’s when the hit man contacted the authorities, according to Middletown police.

Christian Carter’s family was in the courtroom, but they refused to comment.

ORIGINAL REPORT, Sept. 22:

After an alleged “hit man” learned that two children could be possible murder targets along with their father, he contacted the Middletown Division of Police.

Police said a Madison Twp. woman was arrested and charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder after she allegedly paid someone to kill her estranged husband and wasn’t concerned about the well-being of her children, ages 11 and 7.

Middletown police said Shelly Carter, 42, of Browns Run Road, confessed to the crime and she’s in the Middletown City Jail, according to records. They said Carter and her estranged husband are going through a divorce.

Police and Butler County Sheriff’s Office deputies executed a search warrant at Carter’s home on Wednesday night. They later found Carter and her boyfriend, Ryan Stark, 23, inside the Madison Inn in Madison Twp.

Carter allegedly paid someone $500 to kill her estranged husband and promised another $500 and a SUV as payment when the job was finished, police said.

Lt. Jim Cunningham from the Middletown Division of Police, said Carter contacted a potential “hit man” at the business she owns, Dog Dayz Grooming Studio on Vannest Avenue in Middletown. The business was closed Thursday afternoon.

Cunningham said the “hit man” then contacted Middletown police. Carter’s estranged husband never was in danger, Cunningham told the Journal-News.

Carter’s two children were also potential targets and therefore she was charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder.

The children would have been in “harms way,” said Carley Berman, the city’s public relations coordinator.

The alleged hit man probably will not be charged because he is cooperating with police, according to Berman.

A Middletown couple was also involved and charged in the same case, according to Cunningham.

Casey Fryman, 32, and Sarah Fryman, 21, of the 4200 block of Riverview Drive, were charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder because they arranged the meeting with the hit man, police said.

“They set up the entire arrangement,” Berman said.

In the past, Casey Fryman has been charged with attempted felonious assault, assault, complicity to commit robbery and petty theft, according to court records. His wife has been charged with drug abuse (Oxycodone) and petty theft.

Stark, who has a previous felony conviction, was charged with having weapons under disability and possessing a firearm in a liquor establishment, police said. He was carrying a loaded .22 caliber handgun when police found him, police said.

All four will be arraigned Friday morning in Middletown Municipal Court, according to records.


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