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A Star City couple accused of the murder of their 11-year-old son have been scheduled for a jury trial in Lincoln County Circuit Court in November, according to court records.

David Black, 38, and Mary Black, 30, the boy's stepfather and mother, were charged in June in the death of Joseph Carsello, whose body was found by Star City police on June 16 inside a camper trailer at 212 Spring St. in Star City, according to Bill Sadler, a spokesman for the Arkansas State Police. Star City is about 25 miles southeast of Pine Bluff.

According to court records, both David and Mary Black are scheduled to appear in Lincoln County Circuit Court on Oct. 7 for an omnibus hearing and on Nov. 14 for jury trial. Circuit Judge Alex Guynn is scheduled to preside over the case.

David and Mary Black are each charged with capital murder, a Class Y felony, and, if found guilty, could face the death penalty or life in prison without possibility of parole.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Lincoln County District Court in July, police who were called to the residence on June 16, just before 4:30 p.m., found David Black hovering over Joseph, who was pronounced dead about 30 minutes later.

According to the affidavit, Mary Black told police that she and David Black had whipped Joseph with belts on Saturday evening, June 15, as punishment for trying to run away. As the whipping was happening, Joseph began talking back to his mother, the affidavit said, and the Blacks responded by striking him in the face with their hands.

The boy's mother told police that Joseph pulled away from them and kicked his stepfather in the mouth, causing David Black's lip to bleed, before falling down some stairs and striking his head on a toolbox.

The next day, according to Mary Black, Joseph returned from swimming at a neighbor's house, then picked up a hammer and swung it at David Black. Mary Black said she and her husband then "went a little crazy on him to teach him not to swing a hammer."

The Blacks began whipping Joseph with their hands, belts and a paddle and told him to go stand in the corner, according to the affidavit. Mary Black told police that they noticed Joseph lying on the floor a short time later, and the couple began pouring water on him to try to wake him up.

David Black then noticed that Joseph wasn't breathing, the affidavit said.

Mary Black told police she didn't know how the bruises got on Joseph's face because "she didn't think she or David hit him that hard, but she wasn't sure," according to the affidavit.

David Black told police that he "spanked the s*** out of Joseph" on Saturday night. He told police that while he was spanking Joseph, the boy rolled over and kicked him in the mouth, busting his lip. Black told police, "That's why his butt looked the way it did," according to the affidavit.

An autopsy revealed that Joseph died from multiple blunt force injuries. The boy had multiple scalp contusions; multiple impact sites on his head and torso; bruising of his arms, legs, thighs, and buttocks; abdominal hemorrhaging; hemorrhaging of the pancreas; and a lacerated liver.

David Black is being held in the Lincoln County jail without bond. Mary Black is being held without bond in the jail in neighboring Arkansas County, because Lincoln County lacks any facilities to hold female detainees.

Kyle Hunter, prosecuting attorney for Jefferson and Lincoln counties, said no decision has been made as to what penalty his office will seek in the case.

"We've not made any formal announcement that we'll seek the death penalty, but that is under consideration," Hunter said. "We'll make that decision before the omnibus hearing."

State Desk on 08/13/2019

Print Headline: Couple accused in death of son to get jury trial

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