Carman's attorney asks court to toss aunts' probate petition
CONCORD, N.H. — Attorneys for Nathan Carman are asking a New Hampshire probate judge to throw out a petition filed by his aunts seeking to have him declared the murderer of his grandfather, arguing that the dead man wasn't a legal resident of the state.
In a 12-page response to the petition, Carman, through attorney Hubert Santos, denied any involvement in the murder of his grandfather John Chakalos. He also denied the other main allegation in his aunts' petition — that he deliberately sank the boat he and his mother were on in September 2016 while fishing in Block Canyon. Linda Carman has never been found and is presumed dead. Nathan Carman was rescued at sea.
The response argues that New Hampshire is the wrong venue for the legal proceeding because Chakalos wasn't a legal resident of the state even though he owns property there and both his probate estate and his wife Rita's probate estate were filed in New Hampshire.
John Chakalos was killed in his Windsor, Conn., home in December 2013, shot three times in his bed. Police have acknowledged that Carman is a suspect in that case, but no one has been charged.
Linda Carman's three sisters — Valerie Santilli, Elaine Chakalos, and Charlene Gallagher — filed the petition in an effort to have him barred from receiving any of Chakalos' $40 million estate.
Nathan Carman already has access to a $400,000 joint account that was once owned by him, Chakalos and Linda Carman, according to the petition. Nathan Carman is now the sole owner of that account because his mother gifted to him her half before she disappeared, according to the new court filing.
He also could be entitled to his mother's dynasty trust — Linda Carman's portion of John Chakalos' final estate, which is pending in New Hampshire probate court. The petition does not place a value on that trust other than to say "several million dollars" will flow into it.
The petition alleges that Carman committed the "heinous act" of shooting and killing Chakalos in his Windsor home out of "malice and greed" and states "the petitioners believe that Nathan murdered their father, and they ask this court to so find."
A lawyer for Nathan Carman's aunts say New Hampshire is the appropriate venue for the lawsuit.
"John Chakalos was a long time resident of Chesterfield, New Hampshire, and a well-known, active member of the community," said Dan Small, Holland & Knight LLP in a written statement. "He loved the home that he and his wife Rita had built and which they shared with the surrounding community every Christmas. John Chakalos gave generously and consistently for many decades to the local library and police and fire departments, as well as charities that cared for New Hampshire families in need. The groundless claims and denials contained in Nathan Carman's response filing do not reflect reality, and we are confident the legal process will recognize this."
Nathan Carman has denied having anything to do with his grandfather's slaying and continued to do so in the latest legal filing for this case.
In the response to the petition, he denied that he has failed to account for his time between midnight and 8 a.m on the night his grandfather was killed. He admitted that he refused to take a polygraph test about his grandfather's death but also says he agreed to be interviewed by police.
Carman denies several other allegations in the court filing, including that he and his grandfather argued about money prior to the murder. The court filing doesn't deny that Carman purchased a Sig Sauer rifle that uses the same caliber of bullets used to kill John Chakalos. The response to that allegation is that Nathan Carman is without knowledge or sufficient information to make the conclusions asserted by the plaintiff.
The court filing also mentions the sinking of the his boat, the Chicken Pox. Carman admitted he did work on the boat but denied that he caused it to sink. He also denied deploying the life raft that only he ended up on, but admits that "at some point his provisions made it to the life raft."
The FBI and police from several New England states have been investigating the murder of Chakalos and the disappearance of Linda Carman. They have obtained search warrants for Nathan Carman's vehicle, cellphone and Vermont home.
In those documents, they indicate they are investigating whether to charge him with "operating [a boat] so as to endanger, resulting in death."
Nathan Carman told investigators that the boat took on water quickly so he ran and grabbed the emergency kit before it sank and got on the life raft. He told them he couldn't find his mother after the boat sank.
The petition states he left his mother behind while getting a life jacket and provisions for himself. It also raises questions about whether the boat sank in the spot where Nathan Carman claims, alleging that the life raft "could not have drifted from Block Canyon to the position where Nathan was rescued."
The petition also questions why Carman never activated the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or attempted to make any other distress signals when the boat was sinking.
"What a reasonable prudent owner would or would not do asserts a legal conclusion, and the respondent (Carman) neither admits nor denies it," Carman's response said.
Dave Altimari can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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