Mother of teen charged with murder files lawsuit against county

Claims negligence on county’s part for man’s death

Posted 4/26/23

The wife of a Port Ludlow man stabbed to death by his teenage son in November has filed a lawsuit against Jefferson County, alleging county officials should have kept her son in custody because of …

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Mother of teen charged with murder files lawsuit against county

Claims negligence on county’s part for man’s death


The wife of a Port Ludlow man stabbed to death by his teenage son in November has filed a lawsuit against Jefferson County, alleging county officials should have kept her son in custody because of his earlier history of violent attacks against his father and his refusal to participate in a court-ordered juvenile offender program.

Jason L. Carpenter was arrested last year on allegations of second-degree murder and remains in custody in Jefferson County Jail.

Carpenter, 18, is accused of stabbing his father, Robert E. Carpenter, 56, to death outside the family’s home in the 100 block of Dunsmuir Road. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

The lawsuit was filed April 17 in Kitsap County Superior Court. It also names the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Jefferson County Juvenile and Family Court Services.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Kristi Carpenter, the mother of the accused and the wife of the victim, does not set an amount for damages that are sought, and instead seeks general and special damages to be set during trial.

A jury trial has also been requested.

In the suit, attorneys for Kristi Carpenter claim her son had an extensive history of violence, and should have been kept in custody by Jefferson County due to his repeated violations of provisions of a court-ordered diversion program.

The lawsuit also noted that an employee from the county’s juvenile and family court services met with the teen hours before he fatally attacked his father, but authorities did not remove him from the family home in Port Ludlow.

Jefferson County’s deputy prosecuting attorney who handles civil lawsuits did not immediately comment on the lawsuit when contacted Monday by The Leader, and had not yet reviewed the lawsuit.

The lawsuit details Jason Carpenter’s history of mental health issues and violent episodes involving his father.

That narrative in the suit begins in August 2019, when the teen assaulted his father while trying to run away from home. He was taken to a hospital emergency room the following month by Bellevue police after he posted videos online that showed him cutting himself with a knife.

According to the lawsuit, he was admitted to Fairfax Behavioral Health the day after he was taken to the hospital for safety and stabilization. He was discharged 11 days later, with treatment providers saying Carpenter should not have access to sharp objects.

The lawsuit also notes that Carpenter suffered a head injury five months later while intoxicated, and the teenager afterward experienced an “increasing, intense, and often unpredictable period of violent rage,” repeatedly striking and stabbing objects in the family’s home. Later that month, in February 2020, he was taken to the emergency room of Seattle Children’s Hospital in the aftermath of a suicide attempt and described voices telling him to kill himself.

Carpenter was enrolled in Newport Academy, an in-patient residential mental health treatment facility in Jefferson County, the following month.

Also that month, the lawsuit claims Carpenter was a suspect in a residential burglary and was not arrested, but was booked in April after he was caught breaking into a car.

Following the arrest, the lawsuit said Carpenter was offered entry into a diversion program supervised by King County, but the lawsuit added he did not complete the program or follow its rules or requirements, including a mandate to attend school.

The Carpenter family moved to Port Ludlow in October 2020, and the lawsuit said the teen’s “unpredictable and violent rages” continued.

Concerned about his continued periods of rage and substance abuse, his parents sought continued treatment, the lawsuit claimed, and said the teen visited treatment providers five times from March through May 2021.

When he was required to attend summer school that summer, he refused to attend, the lawsuit said.

Incidents of violent rage continued through summer and fall, and continued into 2022. They included an incident in April 2022, when Carpenter assaulted his father, striking him on the head and “ripping out his hair,” according to the lawsuit. He also allegedly brandished a knife at his mother during one rage incident in May 2022.

The attacks continued, and the lawsuit noted that Carpenter violently beat his father during an incident at the family home in June 2022 when he was armed with a knife, and broke down a door when his father tried to escape.

The assault continued and only stopped after the teen heard his mother call 911.

The suit claims both parents told Jefferson County deputies they did not feel safe with their son in the home, and they didn’t want him to stay there.

The lawsuit also noted that his mother had purchased a punching bag as a way for her son to vent his rage, and detectives later found he had repeatedly stabbed the punching bag.

Kristi Carpenter also claimed in the lawsuit that Jefferson County deputies did not want to drive to Kitsap County to take the teen to a juvenile facility after the assault, but said the teen would calm down after he returned to his room, which the lawsuit claimed the deputies said only minutes after they arrived at the scene.

The lawsuit faulted deputies, as well, for not searching the teen’s room, where multiple knives were later found.

The teen was charged with fourth-degree assault, malicious mischief, and a minor in possession of tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, however. The lawsuit said Carpenter was offered another diversion opportunity months after the June 2022 assault.

The teen continued to live in the family home, but the lawsuit said he did not follow any of the program’s rules or requirements from the start, and did not attend school or meet with workers from juvenile and family court services.

An employee with juvenile and family court services met with Jason Carpenter in his bedroom on Nov. 28, and the lawsuit stressed he was not taken into custody.

His father was murdered later that day, which the lawsuit said would not have happened if the teen had been removed from the home.

Kristi Carpenter had earlier told authorities she was in the laundry room of the home when she heard screaming, and found her husband on the front porch of their residence after he had been stabbed in the back and neck. Three of the stab wounds were fatal.

The lawsuit said Jefferson County was negligent and had a duty to protect Kristi and Robert Carpenter “against the foreseeable criminal acts of Jason Carpenter.”

Carpenter’s trial is scheduled to start May 8 in Jefferson County Superior Court.