Saturday, July 26, 1997
Witness: Doan sought ramp
'to cover something up'

Deputy doubts alibi from father

BY LISA DONOVAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILMINGTON - Hours after he is alleged to have kidnapped and killed girlfriend Carrie Culberson, Vincent Doan cryptically mentioned he needed some equipment ''to cover something up.'' That was the testimony Friday of Robert Shelton, who talked with Mr. Doan the afternoon of Aug. 29, the same day Ms. Culberson turned up missing.

Mr. Doan asked about Mr. Shelton's pickup truck and then asked if he could borrow some car ramps, Mr. Shelton told jurors. The ramps are used to elevate a vehicle, facilitating maintenance or moving it on to another vehicle, for instance, but Mr. Shelton said he did not know exactly why Mr. Doan needed them.

''He said he wanted to cover something up,'' Mr. Shelton told jurors.

Mr. Shelton suggested where Mr. Doan might be able to get the ramps. But Mr. Doan said he did not want to talk with a lot of people about his request.

''He said he really didn't want nobody to know what was going on,'' Mr. Shelton said.

After consulting with his wife, Mr. Shelton said, he reported the conversation to police several days later.

Mr. Shelton did say that Mr. Doan was acting normal that day, under questioning by Mr. Doan's attorney John Rion.

Mr. Rion's questioning focused on Mr. Shelton's drug habits - as he has done with many of the prosecution's witnesses.

Mr. Shelton admitted he had smoked marijuana, but said he had not been using drugs because his employer had been doing random drug testing.

In other testimony Friday, a Clermont County sheriff's deputy said he didn't believe the alibi Vincent Doan's father provided for the period in which Mr. Doan is accused of killing Ms. Culberson.

Lawrence Baker, Mr. Doan's father, told police he could vouch for his son's whereabouts on the morning of Aug. 29, Clermont County Sheriff's Deputy Ben Lunsford said.

Clermont County authorities searched Mr. Baker's junkyard on Hunt Road in the northeastern part of the county in the days after Ms. Culberson was reported missing.

Deputy Lunsford testified he searched the property on Sept. 3 and talked to Mr. Doan and Mr. Baker on the telephone that night.

Deputy Lunsford told jurors he asked Mr. Doan whether he knew anything about Ms. Culberson's disappearance.

''The first part of the conversation I (told Mr. Doan) ... if something got out of hand ... he needed to say something,'' Deputy Lunsford said.

''He told me nothing happened, that he hadn't seen her.''

Deputy Lunsford also asked Mr. Doan whether anyone could back up his alibi. Mr. Doan said he was home in bed in the early morning hours of Aug. 29 and that no one could verify his story, Deputy Lunsford told jurors.

But during the conversation, Mr. Baker grabbed the phone and said he could confirm that his son was home in bed.

Mr. Baker said he and his wife had driven by his son's Blanchester home about 1:30 a.m. Aug. 29 and had seen a light on and the door open, Deputy Lunsford said. Mr. Baker said he went to the door and saw his son sleeping on the couch.

Mr. Baker could not be reached for comment Friday.

Testimony from prosecution witnesses will resume Monday, and the defense is expected to begin presenting its case as soon as Tuesday.