A judge ordered Cashell Kelly Carr to complete an inpatient mental health treatment program and sentenced her to probation for attacking Kathryn Wells, 65, who was shopping in a store and later died of her injuries last year. (Shutterstock)
SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly a year after Kathryn Wells was attacked and fatally injured while shopping in a Millcreek store, her family wants to make sure nothing of the sort happens to anyone else.
They recalled Wells on Wednesday as a generous grandmother who was always ready to host a family dinner or cheer them up after a rough day. And they urged the woman who pleaded guilty in Wells’ death, Cashell Kelly Carr, to continue with mental health treatment and medication.
“I want you to be with your family. I want you to be with your husband,” Wells’ sister Cindy Royall told Carr in a court hearing via videoconference. “I just want more than anything for you to not ever have this happen again, where you take such a vital person from all of us.”
Employees at Felt Lighting, a lamp store in Millcreek, reported that Carr laid down on a rug in the store on July 11, 2020, then became unruly when they attempted to help. She then shoved Wells, 65, who was standing at a customer service counter, court documents say.
Wells fell, breaking her pelvis in three places. She succumbed to heart failure exacerbated by her injuries just a few weeks later.
Carr, 45, pleaded guilty to criminal homicide by assault, a third-degree felony, in April, and was released from jail to start an inpatient treatment program. Another charge of criminal mischief, also a third-degree felony, was dismissed in exchange for her guilty plea and as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors.
Third District Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills ordered Carr to serve up to five years in prison, but suspended the sentence in lieu of 16 months of probation and the inpatient treatment program Carr has already begun. The judge also ordered Carr to take her medication as prescribed.
In the days after the assault, Wells was alone in her hospital room due to pandemic restrictions but spoke with her family by phone, her sister said.
“All she could say was, ‘Why did she hurt me?'” Royall recalled.
Wells’ daughter, Lisa McDonald, said her mother had stopped at the store to pick up a lightbulb on her way to their family’s cabin, where they planned to spend the weekend. Wells loved going there to spend time with her grandchildren and her husband of 44 years.
“She was there for every recital, every performance,” McDonald said. “She was all of our biggest fans.”
Carr moved out of state and was arrested in Tennessee in November. Her husband, Jeff Carr, said she wasn’t trying to flee justice and didn’t know there was a warrant for her until U.S. marshals apprehended her.
Prosecutors have alleged Carr’s husband previously described her as having bipolar disorder, but have not shed insight on other severe mental illnesses with which she suffers.
Cashell Carr wept Wednesday as she asked for the Wells family to forgive her.
She said she doesn’t recall pushing Wells but recalls her wearing a pink and white shirt and resembling Carr’s mother and yelling something before knocking into lighting fixtures before waking up in an ambulance.
“I want to get better and I am willing to be med-compliant,” she said. As for Kathryn Wells’ question about the reason for the assault, “I don’t know why,” Cashell Carr said. “I was not taking care of myself but I am now. I am so sorry.”
Carr is in an inpatient program but said she would prefer an outpatient course of treatment so she can be with her kids. She raised concerns about the efficacy of her treatment and the legal assistance she’s received, but didn’t go into further detail after the judge paused the hearing so she could confer with defense attorney Nick Falcone.
Falcone said it was difficult to find a treatment program that could accept Carr without a lengthy wait.
“I just think the sad part of the story is that we don’t have a lot of options for mentally ill people in Utah,” he said.