April 28, 2014

Jury gives Fort Worth man 5 years probation in choking death

As a condition of probation, a state district judge ordered Carl Eugene Molsbee to serve 90 days in jail and pay the victim’s medical and funeral expenses.

A Fort Worth man was sentenced to five years’ probation in the choking death of his girlfriend’s 22-year-old son.

Carl Eugene Molsbee, 39, was charged with manslaughter in the March 24, 2013, death of Boyd “Scott” Tobol and faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

But after deliberating for most of the day Friday, jurors found him guilty of the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide. They later sentenced him to probation.

State District Judge Molly Westfall ordered Molsbee to serve 90 days in jail as a condition of his probation and pay any of Tobol’s medical and burial expenses.

If he is found to violate any terms of his probation, Molsbee could face two years in a state jail.

“The death of Scott Tobol was unnecessary,” said Assistant District Attorney Art Clayton, who prosecuted the case with Tim Bednarz. “Despite the difficulties in Mr. Tobol’s life, he will be deeply missed by friends and loved ones. The jury was confronted with complex legal and factual issues at trial. I am pleased with their hard work en route to convicting the defendant. It was not necessary for the defendant to exercise deadly force during the altercation.”

Molsbee tried to restrain Tobol by placing him in a chokehold but cut off the oxygen to his brain, causing him to lose consciousness. Tobol died three days after being taken to a hospital, according to testimony at trial. Molsbee weighed about 300 pounds, Tobol about 145.

Molsbee and Tobol had a strained relationship, according to testimony. Tobol; his girlfriend, Danielle Herrera; and their son, Elijah, 2, had all been living at a residence in the 900 block of Coneflower Trail in north Tarrant County with Molsbee and Tobol’s mother, Sharon Lutrull, for three weeks before his death.

Lutrell and Molsbee offered the small family shelter until Tobol could get his vehicle repaired and they could get on their feet, Herrera testified. Herrera was working at Taco Bell and Tobol was not employed, Herrera said.

Lutrell ordered Tobol to leave the residence after he and Molsbee got into the fight about whether Tobol could take his son with him. A sheriff’s deputy gave Tobol a ride to a nearby relative’s residence shortly after that argument, but Tobol returned that afternoon, and their ongoing argument turned physical.

The fight ended with Tobol lying unconscious on the floor of a bedroom, witnesses testified.

Clayton had told jurors that while Tobol didn’t always make the best decisions, he didn’t deserve to die.

Molsbee’s attorney, Lisa Hoobler, argued that her client acted in self-defense. Molsbee called police, had been attacked and was only trying to restrain Tobol so he would leave him and others in the residence alone, Hoobler said.

“We will ask you to consider the events from Mr. Molsbee’s point of view, based on what he knew when those actions occurred,” Hoobler said. “The state said Scott made some bad decisions. But they are his decisions.”

Court records show Molsbee has appealed the case.

Staff writer Deanna Boyd contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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