By Joe Gorman
Connie Carpenter wanted a judge to know Friday, just before he sentenced the man convicted of killing her daughter to life in prison without parole, that her daughter’s life was more than what was portrayed at trial.
She acknowledged before Judge John Durkin that her 30-year-old daughter, Collena Carpenter, had a drug addiction and it was painful to hear the details of that addiction while the man convicted of killing her, David Hackett, 54, was on trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
But she said she remembers her daughter as a funny woman who loved her son.
“That [addiction] was only a small portion of her life,” Connie Carpenter said. “She was a hard worker. She was a great mom. She had a sense of humor that was unbelievable. She could find something funny in just about any situation.”
Hackett, 54, of New York Avenue, was convicted by a jury Tuesday on charges of aggravated murder, rape and kidnapping. He served as his own lawyer in the trial, which lasted a week.
Collena Carpenter, of Homeworth in Columbiana County, was found Oct. 13, 2013, near West Avenue, stabbed 81 times.
Hackett maintained his innocence at his sentencing. He said he was sorry Collena Carpenter was dead, but he will be appealing his conviction and asked that a lawyer be appointed for his appeal.
Prosecutors told jurors they found Hackett’s DNA inside Collena Carpenter, as well as her blood on the steering wheel of his van and on a pair of his jeans. Also, prosecutors had text messages between the two as well as data from both of their phones that placed them together in the hours before Carpenter was murdered and during the time police think she was murdered.
Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa said Hackett was already on parole for another aggravated murder he was convicted of in 1979 and had other brushes with the law since he was released from prison for that crime. She asked for life without parole, saying that would be the best way to protect society from Hackett.
“The defendant has been a menace to society over the years,” Cantalamessa said.
Connie Carpenter said the images of her daughter that were shown to jurors will haunt her and her family for years, but she wanted the judge to know the kind of person her daughter was.
“She was not just a drug addict,” Connie Carpenter said.
Judge Durkin said his most important job during the sentencing was to make sure Hackett could not hurt anyone else again. And the best way to guarantee that is to make sure he never gets out of prison.