Attorney’s Office

Devin Carter Sentencing

Carter.PNGOn October 30, 2017 Devin Marques Carter was sentenced to prison for life without any possibility of parole. He was convicted by jury on September 19, 2017 of Murder in the First Degree of William Dawson, Sr., two counts of Attempt to Commit Murder and Intimidation with a Dangerous Weapon.

In the early morning hours of August 6, 2016, Dylan Freeman got into an argument with William “Bill” Dawson Sr. at Johnny Mac’s Bar and Grill on the east side of Des Moines.  The argument was in regards to $7 and a pitcher of beer.  Dylan confronted Bill about it; the two argued and then went outside. They argued across the street and through the parking lot. Realizing a fight was imminent, William “Bub” Dawson, Jr., Carley and two others walked across the street.  Dylan recognized he was outnumbered.  He returned to the bar and sought out his cousin, Steven Freeman.  Steven had been talking to a friend, Devin Carter.  Dylan told Steven he was about to get jumped by some people. Steven went to make the fight even.  Carter followed.  The Dawson group was standing behind a row of parked cars, discussing leaving when Dylan and Steven came around the cars, ready to fight; Carter went around the back of the group.  Dylan and Steven squared off with Bill and Bub.  From behind, shots were fired.  Bill was shot in the back of the head and the back of the leg twice.  He died as a result of the shot to his head. Bub was shot in the back twice and foot twice.  Carley was shot 5 times in the thigh. 

Johnny Mac’s had a surveillance camera positioned on the outside of the bar to survey the parking lot area.  The shooting took place behind the row of parked cars.  Although the surveillance did not capture the actual shooting, it captured the movements of people coming and going before, during and after the shooting. Witnesses had come outside to see the fight and one of them captured Carter on his cell phone camera. The witness can be heard on the video proclaiming that Carter was the shooter.  Steven Freeman positively identified Carter.

Carter gave statements to the police, adamantly denying his involvement.  He repeatedly claimed he was on the smoke deck at the bar when the shooting occurred. The video showed him in the parking lot. Carter communicated with his mom via text which contradicted his statement to the police as well as the video.  

The trial lasted three weeks with nearly 60 witnesses called to testify.  The video surveillance was strong evidence as well as Carter’s interview with the police.  Carter testified on his own behalf and denied involvement. The jury deliberated 4 hours before returning a verdict of guilty as to each of the four charged counts. The jury found Carter acted willfully, with malice aforethought, premeditation and deliberation in shooting to kill Bill Dawson.  The jury found he intended to cause the death of Bub and Carley and in so doing he set in motion a force or chain of events would cause or result in the death of both Bub and Carley.  The jury also found he had discharged a firearm at, into or within an assembly of people with the intent to provoke fear. 

As the Court pronounced sentence, the courtroom was full of family and friends of the Defendant and victims.   A family member read a victim impact statement on behalf of Linda Dawson, Bill’s mother.  She expressed sadness for Devin Carter’s family, who lost their son.  She voiced no regret for her feelings of satisfaction that the Defendant would lose his freedom for the rest of his life.  She pointed out he would still wake up everyday, talk to his family, experience life.  Her son had lost all of those things at the Defendant’s hands.  Although the State requested consecutive sentences to represent the lives of each of the three victims, the court ran the sentences concurrent to each other noting consecutive sentences would not extend the life sentence imposed for murder.

Contact Us

Polk County Attorney's Office
Polk County Justice Center
222 Fifth Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309

Phone: (515) 286-3737
Fax: (515) 286-3428
Email: ctyatty@polkcountyiowa.gov