Jurors now deliberating in Houston murder trial

The fate of a Jones County couple accused of murder in the drug overdose of a friend is now in the hands of a Houston County jury.

Jury deliberations began at about 2 p.m. today.

James Carter, 36, and his wife, Val, 55, are on trial for felony murder in the 2005 death of Debra Coley of Kathleen. Felony murder is when someone dies in the commision of another felony crime.

The Carters are also on trial for possession of the narcotic Oxycodone with intent to distribute, distribution of the narcotic and tampering with evidence.

Coley died from an Oxycodone injection taken when she was already intoxicated with a blood-alcohol level of .198. The limit to be considered driving drunk in Georgia is .08.

The Carters are accused of supplying the Oxycodone, which was injected into Coley's arm while the three friends were in Val Carter's pickup truck outside the Blackberry Circle home where Coley had been living.

Fred Graham, a Warner Robins attorney representing Val Carter, told jurors today that "mere presence" is not enough to convict of murder.

Bill Peterson, a Warner Robins attorney representing James Carter, told jurors Coley chose to do the Oxycodone and that she pressed the plunger of the syringe.

Senior Assistant District Attorney George Hartwig told jurors that the Carters also made choices and should be held accountable for the choice to supply the Oxycodone that ultimately resulted in Coley's death. He also noted that James Carter "confessed" to sheriff's investigators that he may have killed Coley.

According to testimony during the trial, Coley's body was discovered outside the Blackberry Circle residence where she lived that early morning of March 13, 2005. She had an injection mark in her right forearm and Carter fixed the drug for injection, put the needle in her arm and that she pushed the plunger.

An empty pill bottle missing 45 tablets of Oxycontin, which includes Oxycodone, was found in the Carter's home near Gray. The prescription on the bottle was made out to Val Carter.

Coley was left out in the front lawn after injecting the narcotic, and the syringe was broken into pieces and thrown out the pickup truck window as the couple drove to a friend's house in Macon.

For more on this story, come back later to or read Friday's Telegraph.