Judge Delays Final Sentencing after First-Degree Murder Trial Conviction of Carl Greg Small

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By Ashleen Herrarte

RIVERSIDE, CA – Judge Bernard Schwartz in Riverside County Superior Court Monday found Carl Gregory Small, a military veteran, guilty of first degree murder just a short time after closing statements from both the defense and prosecution in the court trial.

Small was accused of murdering a man on August 17 of 2020, after four people—Small, his wife, the victim, and the victim’s wife—were discussing who should go see the body of Small’s mother-in-law. Small wanted to attend despite COVID guidelines, which only allow two people.

This argument escalated and led to one death. According to arresting officers, Small willingly surrendered to police on the front lawn of a house.

At her closing, Assistant Public Defender Paulette Norman suggested voluntary manslaughter would be the proper charge because the elements of first-degree murder charge had not been met.

PD Norman claims it to be an insufficient provocation to say that Small is guilty of first-degree murder, and that the mental capacity of Small was a subjective standard and so it is also insufficient for deliberation.

The closing for the prosecution began with Deputy District Attorney Jay Kiel discussing known facts.

He noted that Small’s wife testified that her husband went to release his dog to attack someone, but when the dog balked, Small came out with a shotgun. He, she said, was about 10 feet away when he shot the victim in the chest and left arm. At this time Small’s wife and the victim’s wife fled and called 911.

DA Kiel explains how when the medical team first showed up at the scene, Small was not following directions to put his gun down. DA Kiel then discussed Small’s background of being a retired Marine who was part of logistics and has suffered from PTSD as well as psychosis.

DDA Kiel argued that Small was not delusional but irritable at the time of the murder. He believes that Small knows the difference between right vs. wrong.

In order for one to be charged with first-degree murder, one must have had a willful, deliberated, and premeditated act. And DDA Kiel said Small has the mental state that allows him to do all these actions. Despite his having PTSD, it did not stop him. He had the intent at the time and could form the capacity to murder someone.

The prosecution also insisted it had been a fight that was escalating. At one point the victim said he would kill Small’s dog, and that is when Small’s attitude changed since the dog was Small’s support dog.

The prosecution pointed out that this is not sufficient for manslaughter; those words were not enough to kill someone.

The DDA noted the psychologist concluded that Small was not delusional and could logically, coherently organize thoughts—which shows that he was capable of first-degree murder.

Once returning from recess, Judge Schwartz ruled he had reviewed everything and began to state the facts of the case.

He emphasized the facts are not disputed by the defense or prosecution and noted how Small remarked to his wife, “I told you I’m not afraid to shoot someone” after he shot the victim.

The judge also pointed to the testimony of the psychologist who concluded that Small had control over his cognitive thoughts, concluding the denial to see his mother-in-law was insufficient for provocation, and that he had enough time for deliberation on his walk over to release the dog; therefore, said the judge, there was premeditation.

Small was found guilty on the count of first-degree murder. The sentencing hearing will take place April 8 at 9:30 a.m.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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