Carter Cole Bomer’s sentencing to 50 years in prison for murdering an acquaintance who tried to help him almost five years ago marked the end of a trial, but left questions unanswered.
“When (sentencing) in a case like this goes to a jury, it’s usually the juries that get it right,” Judge Dib Waldrip said, adding “no one knows the reasoning” why Bomer would kill someone trying to help him. Regardless of the inability to know that, and it may be his first felony conviction, this was a significant (crime) that affected a lot of people in the community.”
A Comal County jury in November convicted Bomer, 60, of murdering Julius Thomas Chambers in the wee hours of May 24, 2017, with the penalty for the first-degree felony between 5 to 99 years to life in prison.
After hearing victim’s impact statements from Chambers’ widow and cousin, and testimony from Bomer’s former spouse about their abuse-filled union in 433rd District Court, Waldrip stopped just short of issuing the maximum sentence. Criminal District Attorney Jennifer Tharp said Bomer, of Spring Branch, must complete half of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
“I’d like to thank Assistant Criminal District Attorney Allison Buess for her excellence in the courtroom and being able to go through all the evidence and the history that this defendant had,” Tharp said of Buess, who will soon depart the DA’s office to go into private practice. “I am grateful for her service to the community.”
Bomer and defense lawyer Richard Jones solemnly accepted his sentence, closing the book on what prosecutors and relatives termed as a senseless crime. Chambers, 31, of Wimberley, had joined Tara Lynn Delegram and Wade Andrew Duke to help Bomer move his possessions hours before a bank was to seize Bomer’s home in the 500 block of Oak Breeze in Spring Branch.
Delegram and Duke testified Bomer that just after midnight, Bomer disappeared to retrieve a weapon inside his home before calmly walking up to Chambers and firing a bullet from the.22 revolver into Chambers’ left temple from point-blank range.
Buess played 9 ½ minutes of a 12-minute 9-1-1 call made by Delegram, who had hit Bomer in the head with a tire iron and then cradled Chambers in her arms as he gurgled his last conscious breaths. Placed on life support, Chambers, known as “Lokey” to friends and “JT” to family, was placed on life support and died days later.
“When he died, I died – I didn’t leave the bed for a week,” said his widow April Pearlman, who still resides where the couple lived when they first met and married, in Anchorage, Alaska.
She said their son, now, 13, was then told his father died in an accident. Only two years ago, she said, he learned his real cause of death.
“How do you tell a 9-year-old that his father got shot in the head,” Pearlman said. “Since then nothing in my life has been the same. I’d give anything to hear his laugh again.”
Chambers and cousin Christopher Hustead lived with other family members inside their grandfather’s home in Wimberley. JT’s father suffered a stroke and his grandfather also too frail to speak, Hustead spoke for them.
“My grandfather said he wanted again to be able to tell (Chambers) he loved him,” Hustead said. “But it’s about justice and doing what’s right.” Then, looking up at the bench at Waldrip, he said, “It’s up to you judge ….a life for a life.”
Kathy Thompson testified to the abuse she and her son endured in 12 years while living with Bomer, who shook his head in denial while seated next to Jones. Thompson said Bomer browbeat and whipped their now 22-year old son to the point he fought back against society and now sits in state prison. She also testified Bomer had broken several protective orders, while Jones pointed out his client had only been prosecuted for one violation.
“When he doesn’t get his way, he fights back against others who can’t fight back,” Buess said. “When he doesn’t have that control, he lashes out with violence.”
The guilt or innocence portion of Bomer’s trial lasted a little over a day, with the jury of seven women and five men and two alternates deliberating 45 minutes before rendering its decision Nov. 10.
“We are ecstatic about the verdict. We feel like justice was served – he was taken away way too early,” Hustead said following the conviction. “He was a good man, a good father, and he had a big heart.”
Delegram testified she, Wade and Chambers decided to help Bomer, who could not read or write and didn’t seem to grasp his impending repossession. She said he hadn’t packed anything as the hour of his eviction approached, and he seemed to get more rattled after he came out of the house, shot Chambers for no apparent reason and then seemed more confused afterwards.
Chambers was airlifted to San Antonio’s University Hospital, where he died without seeing his wife, who couldn’t make it to Central Texas in time. Bomer, after being treated for the five-iron shot by Delegram, was treated and released from University Hospital and then taken to Comal County Jail, where he has remained under bonds totaling $325,000.
“It’s hard to say if (Bomer) is still my friend,” she said during the trial. “He’s not a drug addict, an alcoholic or a bad person. He doesn’t hurt people — he’s not a criminal. I’m not sure if it was an accident, but I do know he was in just as much shock as all of the rest of us.”
Buess insisted Bomer knew exactly what he was doing when he hid the murder weapon between two couch cushions inside his nearby trailer. A neighbor testified to a lack of lighting in the neighborhood, one of Jones’ three arguments that promoted reasonable doubt in the case.
The other two – that the bullet had to have been fired by someone taller than Bomer and that no gunshot residue tests were performed on the others – was testimony from the Bexar County medical examiner that performed the autopsy.
However, Duke testified he saw Bomer fire the gun outside the trailer before going inside his home with the weapon. Comal County Sheriff’s Office investigators found the weapon and also charged Bomer with tampering or fabricating physical evidence with intent to impair, a third-degree felony prosecutors chose not to pursue.
In November, Chambers’ widow vowed to raise their son with memories of his father.
“I just want to look forward,” she said. “I want to raise our son as a good man with the great memories that we have (of his father).”