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article imageSlain hiker's wife testifies in first day of Marin murder trial

By Nathan Salant     May 11, 2016 in Crime
San Rafael - Slain yoga teacher Steve Carter sent a text message to his wife moments before he was murdered on a Marin County hiking trail last year, according to testimony heard Monday at the start of a murder case against two West Coast drifters.
Lokita Carter told a Marin courtroom that she responded to the text but never heard back before learning that Steve Carter had been shot to death in the Loma Alta Open Space Preserve near Fairfax, Calif.
Morrison Haze Lampley, 23, and Lila Scott Alligood, 18, face life in prison without possibility of parole if convicted of killing Steve Carter on Oct. 5 and also of killing Canadian backpacker Audrey Carey two days earlier in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
A third defendant, Sean Michael Angold, 24, agreed last week to plead guilty to a second-degree murder charge in exchange for a lesser sentence and testimony against his two friends, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
After Lokita Carter testified, the preliminary hearing was recessed until Sept. 19 to give attorneys for Lampley and Alligood time to adjust their cases to Angold's removal from the trial.
Prosecutors believe Lampley fired the shots that killed Steve Carter but apparently are not sure who shot Carey, whose body was found on the second day of a music festival, the newspaper said.
Lokita Carter told the court that she owned the Volkswagen Jetta that was stolen after Steve Carter was killed and was recovered in Portland, Ore., at a soup kitchen where the three drifters were arrested.
Law enforcement had tracked the three using a GPS device in the stolen vehicle, and said they had a stolen handgun used in both slayings and also carried Carey's Canadian passport, airline tickets and camping gear.
The handgun had been stolen Oct. 1 from a federal agent's car in San Francisco.
Lokita Carter said she had purchased the Jetta in August purchased the Jetta in August after she and her husband moved from Costa Rica so she could receive cancer treatment in California.
She said she last saw her husband about three hours before he was killed.
Steve Carter was found dead at about 6 p.m. with his hand still holding the leash of the couple’s dog, who also had been shot but survived.
Attorneys for Allgood and Lampley said outside Marin County Superior Court on Monday that they were skeptical that Angold would testify truly at the trial.
Allgood's attorney, Amy Morton of Vallejo, Calif., said she was not offered a deal to testify.
“It is a tremendous deal that his attorney worked out, and we will have to see what he said,” Morton said.
“I’m sure it’s damaging,” she said.
Morton said Alligood was shaking through much of the court hearing because she was suffering withdrawal symptoms after breaking an alcohol dependency.
“She will die in prison, that’s the way it’s set up now," Morton said of Alligood.
"If I can get anything for her, that means she has some hope," Morton said. "But the way the prosecutor has postured this, she will die in prison. So will Mr. Lampley.”
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