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Man reported hitting a deer after hit-and-run crash that caused woman’s death, detective testifies

Crime Watch

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Tyler Carter and Bobette Wilhelm

POCATELLO — A man accused of hitting and killing a Pocatello woman drove to the sheriff’s office to turn himself in for the fatal hit-and-run.

Tyler Carter, 38, appeared via Zoom for the second day of his preliminary hearing Thursday dressed in a white shirt and brown tie. Investigators say Carter was behind the wheel of a pickup truck when he struck and killed 40-year-old Bobette Wilhelm near Pocatello on March 13. Investigators say Carter then fled the scene.

Carter is charged with felony involuntary manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident. Details about how investigators tied Carter to the crime remained unknown until Thursday.

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During the hearing, several people testified, including Bannock County Coroner Ely Taysom, Bannock County detectives and the off-duty jailer who found Wilhelm’s body. Among the testimony, a detective shared how Carter came into the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office on March 17, the day after authorities found Wilhelm’s body along the side of Buckskin Road.

Carter walked into the Sheriff’s Office to report he hit a deer, Bannock County Detective Capt. Alex Hamilton said. Carter allegedly told detectives the sun was in his eyes as he focused on the centerline of Buckskin. Carter said he thought he hit the animal and stopped to check along the side of the road. After about 10 seconds of looking, Carter said he did not see what he hit.

As the interview went on, Carter said he was not sure of what he hit, but once he heard about the crash on the news, he realized it was probably a woman. According to Hamilton, Carter was on the way to buy an alcoholic beverage at a convenience store.

As Carter spoke with detectives, other deputies went outside and took photographs of his green 1994 GMC pickup truck. Photos shown during the hearing displayed the passenger side headlight missing as well as a dent in the hood, the area of the truck investigator say struck Wilhelm.

The truck driven by Tyler Carter to the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office where he turned himself in for a fatal hit and run. | Court evidence photo

Investigators spoke with Carter again on March 19 when he said he smoked marijuana the evening of the crash. During this interview, Carter repeated that he was not sure what he hit but was scared to go back to the scene to check, Hamilton testified.

Deputies arrested Carter after the March 19 interview and took him to the Bannock County Jail. While at the jail, Carter called his family over a video system, which was recorded and played in part during the hearing.

“Man, s*** happens in life, you know,” Carter said to his family in the call. “I can’t believe this happened to me, but it’s alright. Everything happens for a reason.”

His mother responded by saying to keep praying a lot because they are too. Carter explained how it’s hard being in jail because he hates not being liked by the other inmates. Tears poured out of Carter’s eyes during the call.

RELATED | Man charged with involuntary manslaughter in hit-and-run death of woman

“Just too many things about the whole deal I don’t understand,” Carter continued to say. “How I didn’t see her? … She wasn’t there then she was there. What the hell.”

The damaged bike of Bobette Wilhelm found on the side of Buckskin road. | Court evidence photo

The jail call was not the only item of evidence shared during the hearing. Bannock County prosecutors showed photos of the crime scene, Wilhelm’s crushed bike and debris from the crash. Additionally, a graphic image showing Wilhelm’s body lying prone in the dirt.

Dr. Garth Warran performed the autopsy and said photos from the crime scene paint a picture of Wilhelm struggling on the ground after landing in the ravine. He said Wilhelm’s arms and legs were apparently moving after the crash “because she was almost essentially digging into the dirt with her arms and her feet,” creating the “dirt angel.”

Magistrate Judge Aaron Thompson decided to wait to hear the argument from the prosecution and defense until he could review the full jail call and recorded interviews of Carter at the Sheriff’s Office.

Once the argument is heard, Thompson can make a ruling on whether there is enough probable cause to send Carter’s case to the District Court.

The third day of the preliminary hearing will be scheduled at a later date.