Parole granted to man who set fatal '95 fire 

Carlos J. Carbonic, pictured during his trial, will be paroled after being sentenced to life in prison in 1996 for setting a fire in a Gloucester home that killed a man and seriously injured a woman.

A man who set fire to a Gloucester home, killing a man and seriously injuring a woman, back in 1995 has again been granted parole — even after his first parole was revoked because he repeatedly lied to his parole officer about his relationship with another convicted killer. 

Carlos J. Carbonic, 45, will be released to a residential program after another six months in prison, the Parole Board decided in a 6-1 vote last month.

Carbonic was 22 when he used discarded ceiling tiles and cardboard boxes to set fire to 33 Mt. Vernon St. around 3 a.m. on April 23, 1995. 

He had been living in an apartment there until a couple of years before the fire, but had been kicked out by another tenant for not paying his share of rent. At the time of the fire, Carbonic was homeless. He had taken up with a 15-year-old girl who had run away from the custody of the Department of Youth Services.

Prosecutors said that Carbonic and the teenager decided to set fire to the house as revenge for both the eviction and an alleged beating of Carbonic by another tenant in the home. 

One of the tenants, Johnathan Enslow, 30, jumped from a third-floor window to escape, and died several days later from his injuries. Enslow's fiancee, Brenda Cope, suffered burns to 40 percent of her body but survived. 

Efforts to reach Cope on Friday were unsuccessful. 

Carbonic was charged with murder and arson. His 15-year-old girlfriend was prosecuted in Juvenile Court for her role in the case.  

A prosecutor said at Carbonic's sentencing that his initial reaction, upon learning of the injuries to the victims from friends, was "he hoped everybody in the place had died," according to a Gloucester Daily Times account of the proceeding.  

He eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, but only after a jury had been seated and then taken on a view of the fire scene during his 1996 trial. He received a life sentence with a chance of parole after 15 years.

First parole 

That chance came in 2010, when the Parole Board voted to release Carbonic. He was set free in 2012. 

Carbonic had gained the support of Bethany House Ministry, a South Shore prisoner rights advocacy program, and he had a number of people at that 2010 parole hearing. Nobody opposed his parole, in part because the date was changed and the Essex District Attorney's Office was not notified. 

Prosecutor Elin Graydon was allowed to submit a letter to the board in opposition, citing Carbonic's insistence on pursuing an alibi defense right up until the start of his trial, a long-delayed guilty plea, and his lack of participation in prison programs to help him deal with his issues, including substance abuse.

The board voted to release him. 

Little more than a year after his release, Carbonic married a woman 20 years his senior who had been an advocate for prisoner rights. However, he failed to tell his parole officer of his marriage, the board noted. 

Then, while still married to that woman, he began a relationship with a woman who was on parole for manslaughter. Despite a warning from his parole officer that he could not associate with other parolees, Carbonic continued to pursue the relationship, prosecutors noted.  

"The defendant attributes his violation of parole to 'a poor choice,'" Graydon wrote, "but his conduct was far more serious than that." 

At a time when Carbonic was behind on his parole supervision fees, Graydon wrote, he saved enough money to purchase a diamond ring for his new girlfriend, and repeatedly lied to his parole officer. 

As a result, he was returned to jail in 2017.

Then, in June 2018, he again applied for parole.

Second parole

During his hearing, Carbonic apologized to his supporters and to the board, saying he had grown "complacent."

Asked about the original crime at the hearing, Carbonic told the board he had only wanted to "smoke them out," saying he was an angry young man with a "punk" attitude. 

As for his relationships, Carbonic explained that his approach was "unhealthy and grounded in low self-esteem." He also said he has taken steps to repair the trust he broke with his supporters from Bethany House. 

Six members of the board believed he had made progress toward rehabilitation, citing his completion of prison programs like "Study of the Four Agreements" and dialectical behavior therapy. 

The board ordered that Carbonic, who is housed at Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater, spend six months in lower security before his release and, once out, have no contact with his former girlfriend, receive counseling for anxiety, and take part in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous as well as a long-term residential treatment program. 

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.