Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Murder trial begins with defense casting blame on accused's wife

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 11:45 AM

click to enlarge TRIAL BEGINS: Arron Lewis with deputy at trial today. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • TRIAL BEGINS: Arron Lewis with deputy at trial today.

click to enlarge FOR THE DEFENSE: Bill James is Lewis' attorney. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • FOR THE DEFENSE: Bill James is Lewis' attorney.
A standing-room only crowd was on hand for opening statements today in the murder trial of Arron Lewis, accused of the September 2014 abduction and murder of real estate agent Beverly Carter.

The prosecution described a gruesome slaying in which Carter was asphyxiated by having her head wrapped with duct tape and thrown in the trunk of a car, after meeting Lewis and his wife, Crystal Lowery, about a house for sale at Scott. Prosecutors said they would use Lewis' own statements, including in an interview with a reporter, as well as texts, recordings and his wife's testimony.

The defense launched multi-faceted alternative scenarios, including that Carter's death was a "hookup" gone bad — that her death was accidental during a sex act with Lowery. Defense lawyer Bill James indicated he'll throw suspicion on Lowery, who plea-bargained in the case and received a 30-year sentence.

The first prosecution witnesses include her son, who outlined what appeared to be a ransom attempt (though Carter had little money in her bank account), and a sheriff's deputy. Then came a co-worker. Defense cross-examination aimed at attaching ill motives to Carter's actions the day she died has drawn angry response from Carter's friends in courtroom. The prosecution has accused the defense of character assassination. The defense has repeatedly focused on cosmetic surgery Carter underwent and the suggestion that she'd sought an extramarital affair, something her friend testified she believed untrue.

The defense has not yet knotted together its theory on why — if indeed marital and financial problems led a woman to a poor decision on someone to meet — it excuses her killing. Beyond blaming it on Lewis' wife.

David Koon is covering and will have more details later.

Much of the afternoon was given to the examination of phone records, Lewis' chase and capture and law officer testimony. An FBI agent recounted how Lewis had spoken to him after his arrest about the possibility of going before a federal judge to plead guilty to a kidnapping charge, according to media accounts from the courtroom.

UPDATE: We had a miscommunication. David Koon was unable to attend the trial Wednesday, but will be on hand Thursday. Meanwhile, John Lyon of the Arkansas News Bureau has more coverage.

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