Trial Set in Dena Carter's Murder - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/28/07

Trial Set in Dena Carter's Murder

Dena Carter Dena Carter
Michael Natson Michael Natson

Almost four years after the disappearance and murder of Dena Carter, her boyfriend faces federal trial. The Georgia Southern student from California was pregnant at the time of her death. The case has stretched from Statesboro to Columbus where it will be tried next week because Carter's remains were found on a military post.

For NaQuanda Hayes, Monday can't come soon enough. She's waited nearly four years for justice in the murder of her friend and next door neighbor.

"I am very happy to know this is finally getting the attention and trial it deserves," Hayes said. "Long overdue, long overdue."

Six months pregnant at the time, Dena disappeared September 2003 from her apartment near campus. Three months later, hunters found her remains in the woods at Fort Benning in West Georgia. Her boyfriend, Michael Natson, was stationed there at the time. More than a year later, federal agents arrested Natson and charged him with the murders of Dena and their unborn child.

The years have taken nothing off this case for detective Terry Briley.

"I remember the missing persons call like it was yesterday." Briley explained.

Briley says the case became personal to him when Dena's mother came from California. First to help look for her daughter and later to pack up Dena's apartment.

"It tugs at your heart, it still does. And all the other officers who've worked with me on this feel the same way," the detective added.

Because Hayes and Briley will both testify next week in the trial, neither wanted to talk about how quickly they suspected Natson in Dena's disappearance. Both are just relieved Natson will finally face trial.

U.S. Attorneys say the trial could take 4 to 6 weeks. They'll ask the jury to impose a death penalty if they convict Natson.

Reported by Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com 

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