HUNTSVILLE — The Cleveland, Tenn. man who killed an Indiana monster truck driver and injured others during a holiday weekend melee here three years ago has been sentenced to six years in prison.
Billy Jason Carson, 45, of Cleveland, was sentenced Thursday by Scott County Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton, several months after pleading guilty to the May 2015 death of Tony Farrell.
Carson, who had been free on bail, was taken into custody minutes after Sexton ruled that his actions leading to Farrell’s death were unjustifiable.
“I think he is sorry it happened,” Sexton said after listening to testimony at Thursday’s sentencing hearing. But, the judge added, Carson contends it was “almost necessary to do what he did. That’s not a good candidate for rehabilitation or any sort of alternative to incarceration.”
Carson, who pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and two counts each of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, had sought to avoid prison by arguing that his actions were essentially the result of self-defense.
Carson — appearing in court Thursday neatly dressed in a white shirt and blue tie, an appearance strikingly different from the arrest photos of May 23, 2015, when he was taken into custody for Farrell’s death — had entered an Alford plea, meaning he did not admit guilt but conceded that the state had enough evidence to convict him. As a result, he left his fate in the hands of Sexton, while hoping that he would simply be sentenced to probation.
But Sexton did not buy the arguments of Carson and his attorney, Kenneth Miller, sentencing Carson to the maximum amount of time allowed under the plea agreement.
Carson argued at his plea hearing in December that he was the victim at the Trace Adkins concert at Trails End Campground in May 2015. He repeated that stance during Thursday’s hearing, saying his truck was attacked by angry attendees of the concert and that he could only think of “getting home to my momma.”
According to court statements and prior testimony, the Memorial Day weekend incident began when Carson’s friend, Josh Baucom of Benton, Tenn., got drunk and allegedly groped multiple women at the concert. He was punched by someone in the crowd, and went to his friend, Carson, who was selling cheesesteak sandwiches as a registered vendor at the event.
Carson drove Baucom back to the area where the altercation occurred so that he could retrieve his flip-flops, and things escalated from there. Ethan Farrell, the son of Tony Farrell, said that he reached through the window of Carson’s 4-Runner in an effort to get the keys, but was instead struck by the vehicle. Moments later, he watched as his father, who was also apparently attempting to stop the vehicle, reached through the passenger-side window of the 4-Runner and was slung from the vehicle, which then apparently ran over him and caused his death.
Michael Lloyd, a retired U.S. Army sergeant who is currently seeking the office of Scott County Mayor, is a friend of the Farrell family. He presented to authorities a diagram of Carson’s alleged route of travel during the melee, showing a figure-eight pattern of sorts as Carson circled his 4-Runner back into the crowd, striking a bystander, Michael Roysdon, of Ringo, Ga.
It was the injuries to the younger Farrell and to Roysdon that resulted in the aggravated assault charges against Carson. He was also charged with reckless endangerment for endangering Roysdon’s young son and girlfriend.