A judge ruled Monday there is enough evidence against a man charged with first-degree murder in connection with the Valentine’s Day death of his wife for the case to be presented to a Rutherford County grand jury.
Detectives escort medical examiners to the body of Carla Pearman (top inset), who was allegedly killed Feb. 14, 2013, by her husband, Jacob Pearman (bottom inset), at their Kanatok Lane home in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (TMP Photo/M. Kemph)
During a preliminary hearing in Rutherford County General Sessions Court, Judge David Loughry ruled there is enough probable cause against Jacob Pearman for the case to be heard in May by a grand jury for a possible indictment and denied his request for bond.
Defense attorney Luke Evans had requested bond be set on the grounds Jacob Pearman is not a flight risk, noting the 30-year-old personal trainer voluntarily surrendered to police only a few hours after his wife, Carla Dillard Pearman, was found dead at their shared Kanatak Lane home in Murfreesboro.
Loughry refused the request, saying a separate hearing would need to be scheduled in Rutherford County Circuit Court, which now has jurisdiction over the case.
He is accused of killing Carla Pearman, 30, during a brutal altercation that erupted over abuse allegations involving his 7-year-old stepson.
Jacob Pearman and Carla Pearman, who is originally from Manchester, had been married for less than six months and lived in the house with her young son, who was not at home when the incident occurred.
Prosecutors contend Carla Pearman, who was reportedly considering a divorce, was beaten and choked to death during the early morning hours of Feb. 14 after Jacob Pearman learned she had agreed to testify against him in the child abuse case.
As part of the evidence submitted to the court, Assistant District Attorney Paul Newman played a video that showed Jacob Pearman admitting his guilt in the incident.
The Alabama native said the two began arguing as they were laying in bed, a short time after he came home to discover that his clothes had been stuff into trash bags.
“She was my life,” Jacob Pearman said. “I never thought she would turn against me. … I was mad. I just remember hitting her, and I choked her.”
For quite some time, he said, Carla Pearman struggled to fend off the attack and the pair eventually landed on the floor next to the bed.
“She started begging me,” Jacob Pearman said, “that she would do whatever I wanted her to do.”
But it was too late, he said.
“I just lost it,” Jacob Pearman said, adding he started to choke her harder as she fought back.
Once he realized that she was dead, Jacob Pearman said he picked Carla Pearman up, placed her on the bed, and covered her with a blanket. He then laid in the bed with her, trying to figure out what to do.
After deciding to leave the house, he called his parents, and eventually, admitted to killing his wife, according to court documents.
When they learned of the incident, his parents reportedly called the Murfreesboro Police Department, at which point officers responded to the residence and discovered Carla Pearman dead.
“Her injuries were consistent with an assault,” said James Abbott, a detective with the Police Department. “Based on the evidence at the scene, it appeared she died from blunt force trauma to the head. … There were also marks around her neck, which would be consistent with strangulation.”
Noting that officers also observed several self-defense wounds on her body, Abbott said Carla Pearman “fought for her life.”
Given the circumstances, District Attorney Bill Whitesell said prosecutors have not ruled out seeking the death penalty.
“This case, as in all murder cases, will probably be a lengthy process,” Whitesell said after the preliminary hearing. “Once we finish examining all of the evidence, we will examine whether to seek the death penalty.”
In addition, Whitesell said the investigation into the child abuse allegations “is still ongoing” but declined to comment further on that case.