One of the suspects in the slaying of a Westwood man whose bullet-riddled body was found dumped over an embankment in rural Greenup County confessed to pulling the trigger, the lead investigator in the case testified Wednesday.
Kentucky State Police Detective Chris Carter said Carlton T. “Todd” Gallman, 36, of Ashland, had cooperated fully in the KSP’s investigation into the murder of Christopher Frazier, 29, of Westwood, even providing authorities with information that led to the recovery of the 9 mm pistol believed to be the murder weapon.
Carter’s testimony came at preliminary hearing in Greenup District Court for Gallman and his co-defendant, Aaron W. Gallion, 35, also of Ashland. The purpose of the proceeding was to determine whether there was sufficient evidence for the case to advance to the grand jury, and Judge Brian McCloud ruled that burden had been satisfied and ordered the case bound over.
Gallman is charged with murder and tampering with physical evidence; Gallion with complicity to commit murder and tampering with physical evidence. Both men face 20 years to life in prison if they are convicted.
The shooting occurred on March 25 at a residence on Rockgate Road in Greenup County, according to the KSP. The body of Frazier, who was reported missing on April 8, was found over an embankment on Happy Ridge Road.
Carter said the investigation began after the KSP received a call from the Boyd County Sheriff’s Department about a Boyd County Detention Center inmate who had information about an unreported murder. The inmate, who’d been jailed on drug-trafficking charges, told the detective he had heard Gallman and Gallion had killed Frazier because he owed them money from a drug deal. However, Carter said the probe subsequently revealed the slaying was rooted in a robbery plan hatched by the victim, but never executed.
The detective said Gallman had told him that several days before the shooting, he and Frazier had sold a couch to two men in Ashland for whom Gallman worked selling drugs and who he described as major traffickers in narcotics and stolen property. On the way to deliver the couch, Frazier began talking about robbing the men, Carter said. Gallman balked at the plan and even handed him $50 to keep quiet about it, he said.
The two delivered the couch without incident, but later, Frazier started telling people it was Gallman who’d wanted to rob the men, Carter said. The story got back to them, and, at one point, they pulled Gallman aside and threatened to harm his family if he ever tried such a thing.
Gallman said he and Gallion confronted Frazier in the pool house of the Rockgate Road residence and tried to force him to go to the two men and recant his story, Carter said. When he refused, Carter said, Gallman went into the house and came back out with the 9 mm pistol. He pointed the weapon at Frazier while at the same time attempting to place a phone call to an associate of the two men so Frazier could tell him it was him, not Gallman, who’d talked about robbing them.
Carter said Gallman told him that at some point, Frazier stood up and rushed him, grabbing the pistol in the process. Gallman told the detective he panicked and began firing the weapon.
An autopsy performed at the state Medical Examiner’s Office revealed Frazier was shot seven times, Carter said.
Following the shooting, Gallman and Frazier loaded Frazier’s body into a pickup, drove it to Happy Ridge and dumped it, Carter said. The following day, Gallman rode a four-wheeler to pond on a strip mine site on Happy Ridge and threw the pistol into the water, he testified. The weapon was subsequently located by members of the Ashland Fire Department dive team, using directions provided by Gallman.
Carter said it was Gallion who led police to Frazier’s body. He also said Gallion’s story had shifted several times during the course of the investigation. Initially, he said, Gallion admitted being at the Rockgate house the night of the murder and to helping to move Frazier’s body, but said he hadn’t witnessed the shooting. However, Carter said Gallman told him Gallion was in the pool house when the shooting took place and had blocked one of the exits so Frazier couldn’t get out.
Gallion was initially charged only with evidence-tampering, but the KSP last week added the complicity to murder charge.
Carter said the pool house at the Rockgate house was destroyed by fire two days after the shooting and firefighters had told him it appeared the blaze was intentionally set.
The detective also said Gallman told him he didn’t know the names of the two Ashland men and he was trying to determine their identities as part of his ongoing investigation.
KENNETH HART can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or