A civil trial that began last week involving the insurance claim a Vermont man is asking to get for his boat, which sank nearly three years ago off the New England coast took a new turn as he took the stand for his own defense.
At the center of the investigations into the murder of his grandfather and the disappearance of his mother is Nathan Carman, who began his testimony on Thursday. It was the first time Carman gave his full account of what happened when the boat suddenly sank while under oath.
Carman's family believes he killed his grandfather three years earlier and then had something to do with his mother's disappearance as part of his plan to collect millions in inheritance.
Insurers are refusing to pay the $85,000 claim because they believe Carman is not telling the truth and made suspicious alterations to the 31-foot vessel before leaving Rhode Island with his mother on a fishing trip in September 2016.
Nathan Carman is now on the stand answering questions about where he and his mother were fishing before he says the boat suddenly sank. Carman is standing in front of large charts that he marked after being rescued to show the Coast Guard his whereabouts that day.— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) August 22, 2019
Carman was floating in a life raft when he was picked up eight days later by the crew of a passing freighter. Linda Carman was never found and is presumed dead.
Carman testifying about a prior claim involving an overheated engine on his boat. The insurance company ended up replacing the engine. He also testified he called Coast Guard for help when it happened. Carman did not call Coast Guard during the sinking incident in question.— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) August 22, 2019
The former boat owner is at court and shook his head no when Carman testified he stole the boat lines.— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) August 22, 2019
During his testimony, Carman said his memory was sharper closer to the incident but is now unable to recall some details.
Carman says he cut open the two bulkhead areas with a sawzall so he could store fishing rods. Marine experts testified previously the bulkhead areas are on boats to help create air pockets in case the boat takes on water.— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) August 22, 2019
The boat insurance attorney was trying to pinpoint Carman's locations before the boat sank, but Carman said he does not know where specifically the boat went down.
The boat has never been located.
Carman not confirming the boat speed he gave during deposition. He is being more vague and telling attorney he is trying to be as accurate as possible. The boat insurance attorney is trying to show that Carman’s locations are inaccurate using simple math.— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) August 22, 2019
Attorney asks Carman if he is a genius because that is what he said in prior depositions. Carman answers “I don’t know if I am”. This came up when attorney asks him basic math questions that Carman says he doesn’t fully understand.— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) August 22, 2019
Carman told the courtroom he didn't tell the insurance company he was having bilge pump problems on the boat, or that he removed two forward bulk heads and filled the four holes with puddy.
Carman says he first heard engine making noise, then looked below deck and saw standing water where bilge pumps should be pumping out. Carman says he did not set off emergency notification system or radio for help because he believed he was out of range.— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) August 22, 2019
He also testified that he has a policy of not calling the Coast Guard unless he is in danger, even if he was 100 miles out at sea in an unfamiliar area.
Carman testifies he had time to grab three bags of emergency gear in pilot house. He remembers his mother was on deck part of that time. Carman says she was not asking questions about what was going wrong. Carman admits she was typically a “nag” about safety.— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) August 22, 2019
Carman said the boat just "fell out from underneath" him and his mother was on the boat. He added that if he knew the boat was going to sink, he would have used the emergency notification system or radioed for assistance.
Boat insurance company now showing photos of Carman on the life raft waving flag and then being pulled in after he grabs a life ring when he was rescued by a ship.— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) August 22, 2019
During cross, Carman is explaining why he did some of the things the boat insurance companies are questioning. For example, Carman says he removed the boat's compass to make room for other instruments.— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) August 22, 2019
Carman is expected to be the last witness for the boat insurance company and it is unclear who will testify for Carman's side.
The trial continued Friday morning with Carman telling the judge he spent a full week on a life raft.
These are photos of Nathan Carman taken by the crew on a ship that rescued him after he says his boat sank and his mother was lost at sea. He told the Coast Guard he was on the life raft for a full week. pic.twitter.com/OkPI7chRaW— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) August 23, 2019
When asked to explain how he looked for his mother as the boat starting to sink, Carman said he did not hear her yell and wasn't sure if she hit her head or got tangled in the lines.
Carman said he did not yell out for his mother until he got himself onto the raft, and then once he stood up he yelled for her, pausing to hear if she was calling back.
Judge asks if Carman ever dove under water to see if he could see her below the surface of the water. Carman said he did dive down under water.— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) August 23, 2019
Carman says the water conditions that day were relatively flat but there were swells.— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) August 23, 2019
During his lengthy testimony, Carman described his experience on the life raft. He had food and water in the emergency kits and said the air temperature was around 70 degrees over the seven days he spent in the raft.
Carman describes life raft having full tent. He and food and water in emergency kits. Carman says air temp was about 60-70 over the 7 days he was in raft. Conditions inside raft were dry to damp. He used sponge to absorb moisture and ring out.— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) August 23, 2019
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