Jacob Peerman, front, is on trial for the 2013 Valentine’s Day murder of his wife. Photo by Sam Stockard
The murder trial of Jacob Pearman, charged in the Valentine’s Day 2013 murder of his wife, has been postponed until January 2015, according to Assistant District Attorney J. Paul Newman.
Circuit Court Judge David Bragg agreed to the continuance from June 16 on Friday after the state and defense had an informal meeting. He also will allow retiring DA Bill Whitesell to serve as district attorney pro tem and make the trial’s final closing argument, which typically isn’t allowed for a pro tem, Newman said.
In a Friday hearing, Bragg said he wasn’t inclined to postpone the trial but would review arguments made by Pearman’s attorney, Luke Evans, and Whitesell and rule next Friday when he hears a defense motion to dismiss the indictment against Pearman because it combines a murder charge and aggravated child abuse charge. Bragg also will hear motions dealing with text messages made in connection with the homicide.
Pearman is charged with choking and killing his newlywed wife, Carla, Feb. 14, 2013. Pearman was arrested the next day in Manchester after fleeing Murfreesboro in a Jeep Wrangler. He pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
The defendant’s attorney argued Friday that the case should be continued until September based on three points: 1) He is involved in a federal trial in Nashville that has a conflicting schedule 2) An aggravated child abuse charge against Pearman should not have been consolidated with the murder charge in the indictment, and 3) Computers that contain information showing Pearman was suicidal before the homicide were not made readily available to him by the district attorney general’s office.
“I have an obligation on behalf of my client to review all of that information,” Evans argued, contending due process demands that he have adequate time to prepare a defense based on what is contained on the computers.
Whitesell, however, said Assistant DA Paul Newman’s murder trial schedule would force postponement until sometime in February 2015. He also pointed out that the Circuit Court schedule in Rutherford County can’t operate around the federal courts in Nashville.
The district attorney general, who is leaving office in September, also said he didn’t understand the defense’s argument against consolidating the charges because the defense agreed to it.
“Aggravated child abuse served as a motive for Mr. Pearman’s behavior in the murder case,” Whitesell said.
The state contends that Pearman abused his wife’s young son, which led to an argument and her eventual death.
Whitesell said the court is already aware that Pearman contemplated suicide before the murder, and he argued that what is contained on the computers might not even be admissible in court. He contended that the defense had access to the computers beginning in March.