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Prosecution rests, Crystal Lowery testifies in Beverly Carter murder trial

Beverly Carter (Photo courtesy Pulaski County Sheriff's Office)

The state rested its case Thursday after calling a number witnesses to the stand in its case against Arron Lewis, the man on trial for the kidnapping and murder of realtor Beverly Carter.

Day three of the trial began with more testimony from Investigator Allison. The defense framed its case during opening statements using a quote by Investigator Allison, "Everybody has a secret life." Defense attorney Bill James used Allison's statement to suggest to the jury Prosecutor Barbara Miriam's characterization of Carter as a happy wife and successful business woman was not the whole truth.

Thursday, Allison was asked to elaborate on the statement, which he made while questioning Carter's co-worker Brenda Rhodes. Allison stated he made the comment in an attempt to get Rhodes to tell him more about any possible personal issue which Carter may have been going through at the time of her disappearance. At the time, Carter was still missing and no arrests had been made. Allison testified that when he made the comment to Rhodes, she replied, "lf you knew Beverly, she was an open book."

Rhodes proceeded to tell Allison about Carter's financial worries, but the defense responded by pointing out that Carter has not divulged to Rhodes information about martial struggles in the past.

Allison also testified that Lewis admitted to him that he kidnapped Carter and bound her using green duct tape. The prosecutor showed the jury pictures of Carter's body and asked Allison to identify the tape which bound Carter's hands behind her back as green.

Investigator Michael Hendrix was the next to take the stand. Hendrix testified about a ride in police car in which Lewis allegedly went into detail about the kidnapping. Hendrix testified that Lewis admitted to targeting Lewis using the Internet because she was a rich broker who worked alone.

Hendrix also testified that he searched Carter's computer and did not find any dating sites in her browsing history or any evidence that the browsing history or internet temporary files has been deleted. The defense called into question Hendrix's testimony, asking him if he could with certainty identify every dating site by name alone and repeatedly asked Hendrix why he had not printed off Carter's entire browsing history for evidence.

Third to take the stand was Investigator J.P. Massiet, who discovered the crime scene where Carter's body was buried. Massiet testified that police probed the ground for fresh dirt. When police found freshly dug ground, they searched the area digging on their hands and knees.

During Massiet's testimony, jurors were shown pictures of the crime scene and Carter's body. The courtroom was silent during the testimony except for the stifled crying of several of the Carter family members.

A local television reporter also took the stand Thursday morning in regards to her jailhouse interview with Arron Lewis shortly after he was arrested. The reporter said Lewis told her he was cheating on his wife with Carter. He said her death was accidental and he panicked. Lewis' defense attorney repeatedly called the reporter a "tape recorder" when she wouldn't answer if she found any of Lewis' statements to be untrue. The reporter testified she was just there to tell Lewis' side of the story, not to determine what was true or untrue.

Brittany Ballard, who does Internet searches and other things for incarcerated inmates, testified next. She said Arron Lewis has used her services twice. Ballard said she posted a 22-page affidavit to Arron Lewis' Facebook page on his behalf. The affidavit is a handwritten and notarized document of what Lewis claims happened with Beverly Carter.

When the court was dismissed for lunch, Carl Carter, Jr. commented on Lewis's calm demeanor when the pictures of Carter's mother were shown.

"It's classic Arron Lewis. It looked like he was enjoying his candy and in typical fashion, he got a good lean in so he could see the television footage of himself. He's quite the character," Carter said.

Through tears, Carl Carter, Jr. also told Channel 7 News, "She didn't deserve that. I mean no one deserves that. They literally just killed her and discarded her like a piece of trash. " His wife, Kim Carter, added, "I mean, the images were just hard to process."

When the court resumed after lunch recess, the prosecution continued talking about the 22-page affidavit posted on Lewis' Facebook page. In summary, Lewis stated in the affidavit Carter met him and his wife for sex and that Carter died during a sex act.

The prosecution called Lewis' estranged wife, Crystal Lowery, to the stand. Lowery previously pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murder in exchange for 30 years in prison and her testimony against Lewis.

Lowery testified the kidnapping was Arron's idea because he needed help. He wasn't working at the time and she was in nursing school living off of money she had saved. She said they had broken up at the time but he didn't have the money to get out of the house, so she agreed to the plan.

Lowery told the court they began planning two weeks before the actual kidnapping. Lewis hoped to use a credit card machine that he had for the ransom. He was going to get a bank to transfer money to the credit card which he would manufacture and then use.

Lowery testified that Lewis staked out houses in West Little Rock but there was too much security.

The prosecution displayed text messages between the Lewis and Lowery. One message allegedly from Lewis stated, "I'm ready to do this. This sh** is getting old," and a response that Lowery testified was from her phone which read, "I'm ready for you to do this."

Lowery testified they discussed targeting different professions where a married woman would possibly be working alone - like a real estate agent, a mail carrier, or an Avon salesperson. She testified Lewis decided a realtor was best because he knew they made a lot of money. They wanted to target a married person so someone would pay a ransom. Lowery said Lewis researched online and found Carter.

"I wasn't to have any contact with her because I didn't want to be involved," Lowery told the court.

Lowery testified that she spoke to Carter one time on the phone, saying, "Arron told me if I talk to her she would know we were married and we're going to see the house together."

The prosecutor asked Lowery why she didn't just call the police and report the kidnapping. In response, Lowery said, "I didn't want to. I don't know why I didn't."

At one point Lewis was allegedly text Lowery a picture that he took of Carter tied up in the trunk, which she said she immediately deleted.

Lowery testified that the plan was to take Carter to the Argos plant where they hold her. She said they had staked out the plant one week before, but when Arron arrived at the plant that night, he noticed it wasn't like it was when they checked it out before.

Lowery allegedly told Arron she did not want Carter at their house, but he told her he was driving and could get pulled over anytime. Lowery testified Carter was kept in the master bathroom.


When Lowery arrived home, she said Arron told her that Carter didn't have any money but had told him the PIN for her debit card, which he was going to get from her car which was still parked at the house in Scott where Carter had met him. Lewis was gone for about 45 minutes, according to Lowery.

The prosecution again asked why she didn't just call police or let Carter go while Lewis was gone. Lowery said, "It wasn't about the money. I was worried about getting caught."

When Lewis returned, he allegedly told Lowery police were everywhere at the scene. She said he informed her that he was going to have to "take her out of the house and take care of things."

"I wanted her out of the house. I wanted her gone," Lowery said on the stand.

"Permanently gone?" asked the Prosecutor Barbara Miriam. "Yes," Lowery replied.

"But she hadn't seen you," Miriam said.

"I had meds in the bathroom that she could have seen with my name on them," Lowery said.

Lowery testified Lewis took Carter from the house as she hid in the office.

The prosecution displayed a series of texts between Lowery and Lewis.

3:29 a.m:

Lowery: WTF
Lewis: you sure you want me to do this
Lowery: do whatever you want. Good night
Lewis: I'm asking you
Lowery: such a f***ing waste of time. Why don't you f*** her too
Lewis: you need to chill
Lowery: whatever. It don't take that long to do what you need to do. I'm not helping anymore.

Lowery testified that she waited at home while Lewis took Carter out to kill her. She told jurors that he returned home, walked in the bedroom, and when she looked at him stayed, "Look, I'm not f***ed up about it. I don't have a conscience. I can turn it of and on like a switch."

Lewis allegedly admitted to Lowery that he walked Carter to the edge of the grass and choked her, stating, "I didn't know how hard it was going to be. You know what happens when someone dies? You know when someone dies they s*** and p*** themselves."

"At the time, I was numb," said Lowery.

She went on to testify that she initially refused to help Lewis dispose of the body, but he convinced her by saying all she had to do was hold the flashlight. Lowery told jurors that she and Lewis drove to Wal-Mart to by a shovel and topsoil. Lowery testified the couple then drove to Lewis's former place of employment, Argos, where they buried the body.

After the body was buried they went to Waffle House, according to Lowery.

"Have you read this [Lewis's affidavit]?" asked Miriam.

"Yes," said Lowery.

"Is it true?" Asked Miriam

"No," said Lowery.

...

"Did you ever solicit Beverly Carter?" asked Miriam.

"No," said Lowery.

..

"If this was an accident like he claimed, would you plead guilty to murder and kidnapping?" asked Miriam.

"No," said Lowery.

During cross-examination, the defense questioned Lowery's motivation for testifying. They questioned her ability to tell the truth, pointing to her admitted lies in the past to police officers, as well as her work as a prostitute.

The final witness called by the prosecution was State Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Kokes, who testified that in his opinion, the only way Carter could have died was the duct taped mask that was wrapped around her head. Things got a bit testy while Dr. Kokes was being cross-examined, as the judge had to warn the defense to only ask questions and tell Dr. Kokes to only answer them.

The prosecution rested immediately after the defense asked for a directed verdict, stating the prosecution failed to prove their case. The judge chose not to dismiss the case at this point.

The defense will begin their case when court gets back in session at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. Attorney Bill James expects their case to only take half of the day, with only two to four witnesses being called by the defense.

Thursday is the second day of arguments in the trial. Click here for a recap of what happened in court Wednesday.

Follow Channel 7's Elicia Dover on Twitter for the latest live updates from the trial.


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