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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS
IN RE B ETH A NN C ARPENTER, R ESPONDENT.
A Member of the Bar of the District of Columbia
Court of Appeals
On Report and Recommendation of the
Board on Professional Responsibility
(Submitted February 5, 2004
(Resubmitted December 22, 2005
Decided January 19, 2006)
Before F ARRELL and R EID, Associate Judges, and K ING, Senior Judge.
P ER C URIAM: Respondent was found guilty by a Connecticut jury of capital felony,
murder as an accessory, and conspiracy to commit murder, all arising from her complicity
in the shooting death of Anson B. “Buzz” Clinton III in March of 1994. The Supreme
Court of Connecticut affirmed respondent’s convictions on October 11, 2005. The Board
on Professional Responsibility recommends her disbarment under D.C. Code § 11-2503 (a)
(2001) (requiring disbarment upon conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude). See
generally In re Colson, 412 A.2d 1160 (D.C. 1979) (en banc).
We accept the
A crime may involve moral turpitude either “inherently,” i.e., by consideration
strictly of its statutory elements, id. at 1164; see In re Shorter, 570 A.2d 760, 765 (D.C.
1990) (per curiam) (court considers first whether “crimes were pe se acts of moral
turpitude”), or on the facts of a particular case. Colson, 412 A.2d at 1165; Shorter, 570
A.2d at 765. Respondent was convicted of murder for pecuniary gain, a “capital felony”
under Connecticut law. See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-54b (defining capital felony in part as
a “murder committed by one who is hired by the defendant to commit the same for
pecuniary gain”). She was also convicted of accessory to murder and conspiracy to commit
murder. All of these convictions required proof of a specific intent to commit the criminal
act. See, e.g., id. (“Only an intentional murder can be a predicate murder to [a] capital
felony charge under this section.”); State v. Aponte, 790 A.2d 457, 459-61 (Conn. 2002)
(jury instruction to find “specific intent to cause the death of the victim” adequate for crime
of conspiracy to commit murder); Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-8 (a) (“A person, acting with the
mental state required for commission of an offense, who solicits . . . or intentionally aids
another person to engage in conduct which constitutes an offense shall be criminally liable
for such conduct . . . as if he were the principal offender”). All three convictions are
equivalent to the commission of, or conspiracy to commit, first-degree premeditated murder
under District of Columbia law. See D.C. Code § 22-2101 (2001).
Thankfully, this court has not had to consider before, in regard to attorney discipline,
whether first-degree murder is a crime of moral turpitude per se. But the answer is selfevident. First-degree murder — including murder for pecuniary gain — “offends the
generally accepted moral code of mankind.”
Colson, 412 A.2d at 1168.
consistently found moral turpitude inherent in crimes having dishonest intent as an element,
such as intent to defraud or steal. See, e.g., In re Evans, 793 A.2d 468 (D.C. 2002) (wire
and mail fraud); In re Wiley, 666 A.2d 68 (D.C. 1995) (felony theft). If a conviction of
felony theft involves moral turpitude per se, a conviction of murder for pecuniary gain must
Accordingly, as required by D.C. Code § 11-2503 (a), respondent Beth Ann
Carpenter is hereby disbarred from the practice of law in the District or Columbia.