More Details Emerge About the Night Zachery Chapman Died

Ben Carter

Ben Carter

The shooting death of Zachery Chapman west of Garberville in April of 2014 allegedly set in motion a series of crimes including hiding a body and burning a trailer. However, according to evidence presented to the court, the death itself was self-defense. Initially, Benjamin Carter was charged with Chapman’s homicide but this week those charges were dismissed. The defendant’s attorney, Michael Acosta, provided local blogger John Chiv with the 995 motion that resulted in murder charges being dismissed.

For folks who have been following the case, the motion provides an interesting read. Below is a quick rundown of the most interesting of the details stated by the defendant in the 995 motion to be true. Allegedly upon hearing that the victim, Zachery Chapman, was headed toward’s his trailer, the home’s owner, Tommy Smith, hid outside with a .22 rifle. The 995 motion reads,

  • “Mr. Smith’s proximate reaction to this information was to arm himself with a .22 caliber rifle, turn off  all of the trailer’s interior lights with the exception of one bedroom light, exit the trailer into its dimly lighted yard, and cower behind a nearby tree, leaving his three social guests on their own…”

The victim, Zachery Chapman entered the property, while holding a pistol. The 995 motion states,

  • Mr. Chapman traversed the closed gate without hesitation, trespassed into Mr. Smith’s yard, and was seen holding a silver-colored .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol while walking directly towards Mr. Smith’s trailer.  Mr. Chapman pulled back the slide ejector to chamber a round and ready the gun the for firing. and then loudly demanded that the defendant retrieve a shotgun from an unspecified  location
  • ‘Mr. Chapman, whose postmortem toxicology report revealed was under the influence of both alcohol and a potentially lethal amount of methamphetamine, then invaded Mr. Smith’s trailer, still brandishing the pistol, and stepped to the left towards the bed in the direction of Ms. Bigger and Mrs. Carter.  Mr. Chapman pointed the firing-ready pistol directly at Ms. Bigger and loudly rambled on about the shotgun for a few minutes. “

Ben Carter entered the trailer with the requested shotgun and saw the defendant pointing the pistol at his wife and sister-in-law. According to the motion,

  • “The record reflects that Mr. Carter did not immediately fire the shotgun, but waited for a reaction from Mr. Chapman. Mr. Chapman fully turned to face Mr. Carter, maintaining his aim of the .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol, with round in chamber and hammer cocked, but now with Mr. Carter squarely in its sight.  The barrel to barrel lethal force confrontation between social guest and home invader lasted only three to five seconds, with nervous utterings from both men, and then Mr. Carter, his host having abandoned him, and still facing the barrel of a loaded gun, chose to fire first.”

The entire 995 motion with more details is available on John Chiv’s blog, here. Chiv has followed this case closely through the court system and frequently, including this posting of the document, provided information not available elsewhere. For those keeping on top of the story, a chance to read the 995 motion offers some insight into the legal system and into the death of Mr. Chapman.

Earlier Chapters:



  • don’t know if the details of whether Carter aimed the shotgun at Chapman before Chapman turned the pistol towards him, changing it from defense of others to defense of self, but that part struck me as strikingly evasive, this motion being all legal and detailed, then skipping right over that part.
    I sure don’t know that it matters but strange that the motion didn’t detail that exact important part.

  • Mr carter was totally out of control,In the afternoon the day of the murder,he threatened a guy in the parking lot of Napa auto parts.. Hit a truck trying to escape that scene..there were reports made to the cops that he used a gun to threaten two kids in their yard in Whitethorn.. Also that he was making meth,and had been burglarizing the Whitethorn valley,all of which the cops ignored.

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