By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
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By Richard Connelly
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Carolee got in trouble at school for smoking, skipping class and writing notes. She was placed in an alternative school because she ditched after-school detention, Deborah said. She was later suspended for pulling a knife on someone. "A knife that Greg gave her," Deborah added. Gregory said Carolee dropped out, but Deborah insists that after meeting with principals, counselors and teachers, she decided to homeschool Carolee (even though Deborah worked full-time). "She didn't do real good at it, but we did it," Deborah said. Carolee repeated ninth grade and had a problem passing tests. Now she works at Jack in the Box and is trying to get a GED, Deborah said. "There's nothing bad about my little girl," Deborah said. "She's just a normal kid."
Gregory said the worst incident between him and Carolee happened a year ago when she called the police to accuse him of hurting her. According to the deputy's report, Carolee told Officer Mitche Bettin of the Harris County sheriff's department that Gregory picked her up at a friend's house in Katy, said nothing driving home and then began arguing about her several days' absence. Carolee said Gregory grabbed her around the neck, choked her and repeatedly punched her in the face. Her right cheek was slightly red, the officer noted, but it didn't look like she had been hit or choked. When he told her this, Carolee got "extremely sarcastic," the officer wrote, and told him that maybe Gregory hadn't hit her, but she wasn't given enough freedom and she shouldn't have to tell her parents where she is all the time.
Gregory told the officer that she'd been gone several days and when he picked her up, her breath smelled like alcohol. The officer asked Carolee if she had been drinking; she said no. The officer told Carolee that he could smell alcohol on her breath. "She said she only had a taste," the officer wrote.
In Gregory's version, he brought her home, confronted her and confiscated the beeper he had given her (since she hadn't returned her parents' pages). He said she started screaming, "Fuck you, motherfucker. I hate you." Then she ran into the master bedroom, grabbed Hallie's bicycle helmet, returned and hit Gregory in the face with it, knocking off his glasses. To calm her down, he held her arms; struggling, they fell to the floor, where Carolee elbowed him, then ran to a neighbor's house and called the cops.
Deborah told the officer that Gregory's account was what she witnessed and said Carolee had been suspended from Waller Junior High School "for being disruptive and verbally abusive."
Gregory didn't file charges.
After he kicked his wife out, Gregory got a temporary restraining order against her, which Deborah violated by calling and leaving unstamped notes in the mailbox addressed to Hallie. On July 7 Hallie received a card that said, "I can't always be with you but I'm always thinking about you." Deborah wrote her phone number and "Hallie, Mommy loves you soooo much. I miss you and wish I could see you and kiss you or even speak to you." She told her to play nice.
Deborah enclosed an old picture of herself, a heavyset woman with waist-length hair. Her brown eyes were rimmed with Cleopatra coal, and her mascara-thickened lashes were neatly separated spikes. Another picture showed Deborah and Carolee cheek to cheek. Wearing a black tank top and zebra-striped sunglasses, Carolee had a sultry Seventeenmagazine model look. The next card admitted into evidence said, "I am looking for you. Mommy loves you baby. I promise, I will see you soon. Don't forget us." She told her three-year-old to please call if she got a chance. The last note chilled Gregory's mother. "I am looking for you" sounds an awful lot like "I am going to kidnap you," Ethylene said. The restraining order ended the night before the hearing, so Gregory took Hallie to sleep in a Houston Residence Inn.
"They hid her from me," Deborah said.
Gregory's lawyer's "evidence" included a Tampa sweet cigar label, a used condom and two ripped X-tasy condom wrappers Gregory found under Carolee's bed. Marked exhibit no. 38, in a "How the Grinch stored Christmas" Ziploc baggie were three bullets.
What Gregory and his mother see as the most damning evidence were color-copied excerpts from Carolee's diary. Dated March 9, 2000, she wrote in purple ink on the pink page, "Tim licked my asshole. It tickled but it felt good." She wrote about stealing $35 and a checkbook from school and getting suspended for skipping. Six days later she wrote about having sex with her boyfriend, getting drunk, fighting and throwing beer cans at him and his friend. "I got pissed, ran inside and got the double barrel shot gun. I couldn't cock it back, though. But I scared them off."
The next entry was May 7, 2000: "to summarize my life since March, I got suspended from school and I am working at Macfrugals." Her cat had kittens and she and Tim got back together. "He's still a cheap ass but he's made me cum 5 times! He's so bad ass."
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