Metro

Nathan Carman’s lawyers throwing up ‘smoke screen’ on gun evidence, insurer says

Nathan Carman at a hearing in West Hartford, Conn., in August.
Cloe Poisson/Hartford Courant/Associated Press
Nathan Carman at a hearing in West Hartford, Conn., in August.

Lawyers for Nathan Carman are throwing up a “smoke screen” by claiming that records indicate differences between the gun that killed Carman’s wealthy grandfather and the firearm Carman bought weeks before the slaying, opposing attorneys said Thursday.

The salvo was contained in a legal filing submitted in US District Court in Rhode Island by lawyers for an insurer of Carman’s boat, which sank in 2016 when Carman and his mother were onboard. Carman was later rescued, but his mother hasn’t been found.

The insurer is suing Carman, 24, in an effort to quash his $85,000 claim on the sunken vessel. The insurer alleges a link between the murder of Carman’s grandfather and the sinking of the vessel. The insurer claims Carman made suspicious alterations to his boat before he and his mother set off on their trip, to ensure the vessel would sink.

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With Carman’s mother presumed dead, her share of her slain father’s $44 million estate would go to Carman, her only child. Carman has adamantly denied killing his grandfather or intentionally harming his mother, and he hasn’t been charged criminally in either case.

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In a court filing last week, Carman’s lawyers said the insurer failed to connect a “NATO caliber assault rifle” that he bought in November 2013 with the firearm that killed his grandfather, John Chakalos, about five weeks later.

Records show Carman purchased a Sig Sauer 716 Patrol Rifle capable of firing “7.62 NATO military caliber” and “.308 commercial grade caliber” ammunition.

Carman’s lawyers contend the insurer’s questions about that gun are immaterial to the sinking of the boat.

His attorneys said last week in court papers that the “Connecticut State Police Forensics Lab has found that Mr. [Chakalos] was murdered by a ‘.30 caliber class boatail bullet’ with at least one of the bullets being a ‘hollow point bullet,’ ” and that the lab report “does not indicate that the murder weapon was a .308 firearm (or a 7.62mm firearm)” such as the one Carman bought.

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In a blistering response Thursday, lawyers for the insurer cited an excerpt from a search warrant affidavit in which authorities said the “Sig Sauer 716 Patrol .308 caliber rifle” that Carman purchased was “consistent with the same caliber weapon used in the homicide of John Chakalos.”

The murder weapon hasn’t been found.

“Simply put, Nathan Carman and his counsel have tried to improperly release a smoke screen with the forensic report,” the insurer’s lawyers wrote Thursday. “However, expert ballistics testimony will make clear that ‘.30 caliber class’ bullets include .308 WIN and 7.62x51mm ammunition which can be interchangeably fired without modification in Sig Sauer Firearm Serial No. 22C012970.”

The insurer wants Carman to produce his Sig Sauer for examination; his lawyers oppose that request. Carman hasn’t disclosed the current whereabouts of his Sig Sauer.

Carman also faces a lawsuit in New Hampshire brought by his aunts, who are trying to block him from collecting any funds from Chakalos’s estate.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.