Gerald Lee Culverson of Chandler Released from Jail Without Charge; Cops Back Off Murder Accusation, Retract Worst Details of Victim's Bitten Breasts
Gerald Lee Culverson of Chandler has been released from jail without any pending charge, despite Monday's allegation by police that he killed his girlfriend.
Based on preliminary information from the county medical examiner, Chandler police today retracted two key details from the probable-cause statement from which we quoted in Monday's blog post about Culverson:
* The victim's breasts had indeed been bitten by Culverson, who told police that he and girlfriend Deborah Courtney had "nasty sex" before she died. But the bites weren't nearly as severe as police had first thought, Sergeant Joseph Favazzo tells New Times. One of the nipples was not "nearly detached," as police had first reported.
* A cut on the back of Courtney's head was just a flesh wound and didn't pierce her brain, as first reported.
The medical examiner's report isn't finished, so it's still not clear how Courtney died, Favazzo says.
However, Chandler police now say enough doubt exists to prevent them from moving forward with a criminal case at this time.
Courtney had fallen down about a week earlier and hit her head, and she seemed to be falling down a lot since then, Culverson, 58, explained after cops found the bloody body of his girlfriend in the bedroom of their mobile home.
The couple had stayed up all night drinking, and sometime in the morning he heard her fall down in the hallway, Culverson told police.
He picked her up and placed her on the bed, where the two proceeded to have "nasty sex." He ripped her clothes and bit her nipples "very hard," yet the two didn't have intercourse, according to Culverson. He admitted he caused her nipples to bleed (but again, the bite wounds were later found to be less serious than police first believed). She seemed to be "into it" judging by her moans, he reportedly told police.
The pair fell asleep. When Culverson woke up, he found Courtney injured on the floor, he told cops.
Culverson called 911 and requested paramedics. He was arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of second-degree murder.
In addition to the bite marks and head wound, police also thought they saw bruising on Courtney's chin, throat, and ribs. However, it's unclear now whether police were correct about the bruises, either.
Even if Courtney was bruised, the lead detective on the case said, "We don't know if this 'nasty sex' was consensual or not," Favazzo says.
Combined with the preliminary information from the Medical Examiner's Office, Chandler police Monday felt "we had to release this guy," he says.
The probable cause statement utilized information police had at the mobile home, but police don't "probe" bodies they find -- "they just look," Favazzo explains. In this case, they overestimated the wounds on Courtney.
Culverson is "absolutely not" a danger to the community, police say at this time, Favazzo says. Yet it's also possible that Culverson could be re-arrested based on new evidence.
"It's an evolving case," Favazzo says. "They're really starting their investigation fresh."
New Times will keep following the case and let you know about any new developments.
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