Jury Selection Begins in Trial of Man Accused of Killing Arkansas Realtor Beverly Carter
Arron Lewis faces the death penalty for allegedly kidnapping and killing the 50-year-old realtor
It was supposed to be her last appointment of the day.
When real estate agent Beverly Carter arrived at a home in Scott, Arkansas in September 2014, she planned to show the vacant property to a prospective buyer.
But the 50-year-old realtor vanished, leaving a stunned community searching for answers.
Police quickly focused on 33-year-old Arron Lewis as their suspect, and they say he led them to her body, which was buried in the concrete plant where Lewis had once worked. A month later, his estranged wife, Crystal Lowery, was also arrested and charged with the murder.
Sixteen months later, Lewis is now facing trial in Carter’s murder. More than 100 potential jurors arrived at the Pulaski County Courthouse on Tuesday morning. Prosecutors hope to impanel a 12-member jury by Wednesday morning.
Those closest to Carter acknowledge that it will be difficult to hear about the last moments of her life. In a text to PEOPLE, Carter’s son, Carl, says that he is “ready for this to be over.”
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Evidence Thrown Out
When he was arrested, Lewis initially told reporters that he had targeted Carter because “she was just a woman who worked alone – a rich broker.”
Days later, however, he pleaded not guilty to the killing.
Prosecutors acknowledge that they have their work cut out for them. Last month, they faced several setbacks when presiding judge Herb Wright threw out a substantial amount of physical evidence that the police had collected. He also quashed recorded interviews.
Wright ruled that deputies had repeatedly violated Lewis’ rights. Among other things, Wright ruled, they had questioned Lewis without an attorney and illegally searched his property.
Wright ruled that the search warrant for Lewis’ car and home did not cite the proper proof necessary to authorize a search.
Jurors will not get to hear about pieces of duct tape and strands of Carter’s hair found in the trunk of Lewis’ car. They also won’t learn about messages on his cellphone, which was found in his home.
According to court documents, cops also found a cache of guns and a credit-card reading machine in the house, but neither of those can be introduced at trial either.
Prosecutors will also be barred from playing a recording in which Lewis allegedly talks about abducting Carter and explaining to cops that he intended to collect $100,000 in ransom for her.
In November, prosecutors played a recording at a hearing in which Lewis told investigators that “the whole thing was about money,” and stating that he expected to “go away for a long time.”
The Case Against Lewis
Still, prosecutors will be able to introduce some of his statements to police.
Perhaps the most crucial evidence will be the testimony of Lewis’ wife, Crystal Lowery. She admitted to her involvement in the abduction. She has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and kidnapping, and has been sentenced to 30 years. She will testify against Lewis in court.
Additionally, Deputy Jeff Allison will testify. In a November hearing, he told the court about Lewis taking him on a “wild goose chase” to recover Carter’s body.
The trial is expected to last two weeks.